Abortion rights issue moves closer to 2024 ballot

Published on September 8, 2023 at 10:50 am

A group that is trying to place a state constitutional amendment to protect the right to an abortion on the 2024 ballot says it has enough signatures to get a review from the Florida Supreme Court.

Floridians Protecting Freedom says it has garnered 600,000 petition signatures statewide. That’s two-thirds of the roughly 900,000 signatures needed to place the amendment on the 2024 ballot.

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Dawnyell Singleton, with Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said she’s optimistic the electorate will have the opportunity to vote on the amendment.

“I do believe that we will be successful,” Singleton said. “We have a huge amount of grassroots momentum that’s behind us. People are excited, and at the end of the day Floridians are sick of the government interfering in our health care decisions.”

Earlier this year, state lawmakers approved a ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. A year earlier, the Legislature passed a 15-week limit on most abortions.

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On Friday, lawyers with the group and others will argue before the Florida Supreme Court whether the 15-week law violates the privacy clause in the state constitution. The legality of that law has to be decided before the six-week law can take effect.

The proposed amendment would protect abortion rights in Florida up to about 24 weeks of pregnancy, which is generally when a fetus is considered viable.

“This is a human rights issue that affects everyone,” Singleton said. “And every individual deserves the freedom to control their own bodies without politicians interfering with that.”

The privacy clause was put into the state constitution by a voter referendum in 1980 and later affirmed as including abortion rights by the state Supreme Court.

State lawyers claim the privacy clause has been wrongly applied to abortion since then.

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