Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Abortion Amendment Appears Headed for Florida Ballot

According to unofficial numbers released by the state, organizers have collected 910,946 signatures, nearly 20,000 more than necessary to reach the signature threshold. The measure’s language still must be approved by the state supreme court. If it passes, abortion rights would be enshrined in the state’s constitution.

A proposed constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights in Florida has enough signatures to qualify for the 2024 ballot, according to unofficial numbers posted on the state’s elections website Friday.

The Florida Division of Elections reported it has verified 910,946 petitions submitted by the campaign, almost 20,000 more than the required 891,523.

The amendment’s backers say the milestone shows that they have broad support needed to enshrine abortion rights in Florida’s constitution.

“The fact that we only launched our campaign eight months ago and we’ve already reached our petition goal speaks to the unprecedented support and momentum there is to get politicians out of our private lives and health care decisions,” campaign director Lauren Brenzel said.

Floridians Protecting Freedom, the group backing the abortion amendment, is awaiting official confirmation from the secretary of state that the signature requirements have been met. The agency has until Feb. 1 to make that determination. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

If the amendment makes the ballot, it must win at least 60% of the vote to secure passage.

The ballot initiative’s summary states in part, “No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. That law will take effect if the Supreme Court upholds a 15-week abortion ban passed last year.

The proposed amendment will need to clear another hurdle to get on the ballot, even if it is certified as having enough signatures.

The Florida Supreme Court, which is dominated by conservative justices, must approve the ballot initiative’s language. The high court evaluates proposed citizen ballot initiatives to determine if the language is clear, won’t mislead voters, and deals with a single subject.

Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody has argued that the ballot summary will confuse voters because it doesn’t define the term “viability.” Supporters say the term has a “well-understood, commonly accepted meaning” as “the point at which a fetus could survive outside the womb.”

John Stemberger, president of the anti-abortion Florida Family Policy Council, called on the court to block the initiative, which he said isn’t clear as to its scope.

“The collection of the signatures is meaningless unless the Florida Supreme Court approves the language,” he said. “I think it is misleading.”

A coalition is ready to oppose the measure if it does make the ballot, Stemberger said.

The high court is set to hear arguments on Feb. 7.

©2024 Orlando Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
TNS delivers daily news service and syndicated premium content to more than 2,000 media and digital information publishers.
From Our Partners