The Florida Supreme Court is set to deliberate on February 7 regarding a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at protecting abortion rights in the state. Advocates, led by the political committee Floridians Protecting Freedom, are nearing the essential petition-signature threshold. To be eligible for the November ballot, the committee must submit 891,523 valid signatures by the February 1 deadline. The most recent update, as of Wednesday, reported 863,876 verified signatures on the state Division of Elections website.
Beyond meeting the signature requirement, Floridians Protecting Freedom encounters an additional challenge: obtaining Supreme Court endorsement for the proposed ballot wording. Attorney General Ashley Moody opposes the amendment, citing concerns about the term "viability" within the wording. The ballot summary stipulates, “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.”
The Abortion Argument Continues
Moody and adversaries argue that "viability" is open to interpretation and could be ambiguous. In an October brief, Moody criticized the measure, alleging an attempt to mislead voters by concealing a broader meaning.
In a rebuttal in November, Floridians Protecting Freedom rejected these allegations, asserting that the term "viability" in the abortion context holds a well-established understanding. They contended that voters can comprehend the implications of living in a society where government interference with abortion is limited before viability.
Despite opposition, Floridians Protecting Freedom has reached significant milestones in their petition drive. As of Friday, the initiative secured 864,000 verified petitions, constituting 8% of the total votes cast in Florida during the last presidential election. Organizers target 16 districts for success, with 13 meeting the signature requirement by Friday.The proposed constitutional amendment is a response to a law implemented by the Republican-controlled Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis, proposing a potential six-week abortion limit. It aims to counteract this restrictive legislation amid national debates following the U.S. Supreme Court's 2022 decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights precedent. If the amendment reaches the ballot, it necessitates 60% voter approval to pass.
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