The proposal to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution must get past the Florida Supreme Court, which will soon hear oral arguments in a challenge from the state’s attorney general.
Abortion rights activists in Florida have collected enough signatures for a ballot initiative that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, potentially setting the stage for the issue to be front and center for state voters in November.
As of Saturday morning, more than 911,000 valid signatures had been submitted to the Florida Division of Elections, nearly 20,000 more than what was required for the proposal to qualify.
Florida currently has a 15-week abortion ban. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a six-week ban into law last year, but both bans have been blocked by courts. The language in the proposed ballot initiative seeks to expand the right to an abortion until viability: “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.” Fetal viability is generally considered to be around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The ballot effort, however, now must get past the Florida Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority — with five of the seven justices appointed by DeSantis. Next month, the court will hear oral arguments in a legal challenge from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who filed a legal brief in October arguing that its language would “mislead voters.