Florida Abortion Rights battle: State Supreme Court weighs ballot question approval

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The Florida Supreme Court might deal a big blow to Governor DeSantis and conservative leaders if it decides that the abortion ban law should be voted on in November. Despite facing tough challenges due to strict rules from conservative Republican lawmakers, advocates for abortion rights are bringing their fight to the state Supreme Court this week. They hope to get a question about abortion rights on the November ballot.

Florida Supreme Court to hear arguments

The court is set to review whether the language for a potential ballot question meets state standards this Wednesday. This review needs to be done by April 1 for the issue to be put in front of voters. The campaign to get this question, known as Amendment 4, on the ballot has garnered sufficient support and is officially recognized by the state’s election authorities, pending the Supreme Court’s ruling.

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Should the court approve, this could overturn the state’s current abortion laws, striking a significant blow to Gov. DeSantis and other officials who have aimed to tighten the process for placing such questions on the ballot.

The move to get abortion access on the 2024 ballot mirrors successful efforts in states like Kansas and Ohio, amidst a backdrop where Florida prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and seeks to reduce this to six weeks, though the latter is not yet in effect.

Supporters of abortion rights are optimistic about their chances. Legal experts suggest that the court’s role is to ensure the question is focused on a single issue and clearly communicates the amendment’s impact. Nevertheless, the court, with a conservative majority including five judges appointed by DeSantis, is expected to uphold the 15-week abortion ban.

Attorney General Ashley Moody says the proposal is confusing

Attorney General Ashley Moody and others opposed to abortion argue that the ballot question’s wording is unclear and should be rejected.

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If approved, the ballot question would assert that no legislation can ban, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb, or when abortion is necessary for the mother’s health, as determined by her doctor.

Moody, in her brief filed in late October, claimed the amendment seeks to deceive voters into supporting a policy that essentially permits unrestricted abortions.

“The ballot summary … is part of a similar overall design to lay ticking time bombs that will enable abortion proponents later to argue that the amendment has a much broader meaning than voters would ever have thought,” Moody wrote.

Moody raised concerns about the terms “healthcare provider,” “viability,” and “health” used in the proposal. She argues that “viability” could have varied interpretations, potentially leading to looser abortion laws. Moody believes the amendment would let doctors decide when a fetus can survive outside the womb and when health reasons may justify a later-term abortion.

Moody also pointed out that if the court supports the amendment, it should highlight that the government’s branches still hold their roles in setting and enforcing rules on when a pregnancy is viable and what constitutes a health reason for an abortion.

On the other hand, a group of former Republican officials, including ex-Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, contend that the state is demanding an overly strict examination of this ballot question compared to others in the past.

These officials emphasized Florida’s tradition of valuing people’s right to determine their fundamental laws. This principle leads courts to be particularly cautious about blocking citizen-initiated measures from reaching voters.

They argue that regardless of one’s stance on abortion, it’s crucial that the process for citizens to propose amendments is respected. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s guidance in the Dobbs case, this approach allows the public to have a direct voice in the matter.

Supreme Court review is standard procedure in Florida

It’s normal for the Supreme Court to review ballot questions in Florida, especially when there’s opposition from the state, and to hear discussions about it.

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Despite the current 15-week restriction, Florida has been a refuge for women from states with stricter laws seeking abortions. This highlights the urgency of getting the abortion protection question on the ballot, especially with the threat of a six-week ban on the horizon.

William Hath
William Hathhttps://latestusnewshub.com
William, reporting for US News Hub from Washington DC, specializes in federal government accountability and transparency. His investigative efforts to unveil the inner workings of government operations and his dedication to challenging authority align with our goal of delivering in-depth and reliable news to our readers.

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