Florida Supreme Court sets date for abortion access oral arguments

by | Jan 3, 2024

The Florida Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on February 7 regarding a proposed constitutional amendment on abortion rights.

The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday stated that it will hear arguments on February 7 regarding a proposed constitutional amendment on abortion rights. Per the issued Advisory Opinion, each side will have 20 minutes to present an argument.

The amendment initiative, led by abortion rights advocacy group Floridians Protecting Freedom, has reportedly gathered more than 1.4 million signatures, well beyond the required 891,523. However, as of this writing, just 863,876 of these have been validated, meaning that the remaining reported total must be registered and authenticated by Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd.

The proposed amendment seeks to establish the right to abortion in Florida up until the point of fetal viability — estimated at around 24 weeks. Current state law prohibits most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and an expanded six-week abortion limit is being decided on by courts.

“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,” reads the ballot initiative’s summary.

While the campaign has reportedly met its signature quota, the initiative’s future hinges on the decision of Florida’s Supreme Court. State Attorney General Ashley Moody has raised concerns over the amendment’s language, suggesting it could mislead voters. If the measure garners the support of the state’s highest court, it will move one step closer to appearing on ballots this year, where it will require 60 percent of voter support to be enacted.

In addition to collecting the statewide signatures, the campaign must meet specific thresholds in at least half of Florida’s 28 congressional districts. As per the latest updates, the campaign has achieved the required number of signatures in just eight districts.

The effort has drawn support from various advocacy groups, including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Florida, as well as Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book. According to campaign disclosures, nearly $9 million has been raised.

Opposition to the amendment has been vocal, with anti-abortion groups actively campaigning against the measure. The groups have initiated efforts like the “Decline to Sign” campaign, led by Florida Voice For The Unborn. Pro-life advocates have also filed the ‘Human Life Protection Amendment‘ initiative, which would recognize the “God-given right to life of the preborn individual.” The campaign currently has 30,153 signatures registered with the state.

In a November survey conducted by the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL), 62 percent of respondents indicated they would support the amendment if it were to be included in the 2024 ballot. Conversely, 29 percent expressed opposition to the measure, while 9 percent remained undecided or chose not to disclose their position.

“If this amendment does make it on the ballot, initiatives like this one need a supermajority of 60 percent in order to pass, and it looks like the proposed abortion amendment is right at that threshold among these respondents,” commented PORL faculty director and professor of political science Dr. Michael Binder. “Even among registered Republicans, 53 percent would vote to protect abortion rights in Florida, with just 39 percent voting no.”


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