Florida attorney general set to ask state Supreme Court to keep abortion protections off the ballot

Florida’s attorney general is expected to ask the state Supreme Court to keep an abortion-rights measure off November’s ballot

Brendan Farrington
Wednesday 07 February 2024 14:14 GMT

Florida's attorney general is expected to ask the state Supreme Court to keep an abortion-rights measure off November's ballot on Wednesday, saying it misleads voters and could be used to expand abortion rights in the future.

Proponents of the proposed amendment say the language is clear and concise and that Attorney General Ashley Moody is playing politics instead of letting voters decide whether to protect access to abortions.

The case will be a test on whether Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who appointed five of the seven judges, has changed the direction of a court that in past years has interpreted a privacy clause in the state constitution to strike down some abortion restrictions. No decision is expected Wednesday.

The proposed amendment would allow abortions to remain legal until the fetus is viable. Moody has argued that abortion rights proponents and opponents have differing interpretations as to what viability means. Those differences along with the failure to define “health” and “health-care provider,” are enough to deceive voters and potentially open a box of legal questions in the future, she previously told the court.

The arguments come as both sides of the abortion debate wait for the Florida Supreme Court to rule on whether to uphold a 15-week abortion ban passed two years ago. Last year, lawmakers went further and passed a ban at six weeks, which is before many women even know they are pregnant, but it won't take effect if the court throws out the 2022 ban signed by DeSantis.

If the question is allowed on the ballot, 60% of voters would have to approve it.

Any change in abortion access in Florida would be felt out of state as well because the Sunshine State traditionally has been a haven for women in the southeastern U.S. seeking abortions. Nearby Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi have bans on abortion at all stages of pregnancy, and Georgia has a ban on terminating pregnancies after cardiac activity can be detected.

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