02 Apr 2024, 09:58

Abortion rights amendment can be on the ballot: Florida Supreme Court

MIAMI, April 2, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Florida's Supreme Court on Monday paved
the way for a ban on abortion after just six weeks of pregnancy, even as it
allowed an abortion rights amendment to be on the ballot in November.

The pair of decisions threw into sharp relief the bitter fight over
reproductive rights, an issue that Democrats are championing in an election

Abortion is currently allowed in the southern state at up to 15 weeks of
pregnancy but a Republican-backed law slashes that to six weeks, before many
women even know they are pregnant.

The conservative-dominated state supreme court was considering both the
legality of the abortion restrictions and the proposed amendment that would
enshrine a woman's right to abortion in the Florida constitution.

Amendment 4, as it is called, reads in part: "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 health care

The viability of a fetus outside the womb is generally considered to be
around 24 weeks.

At least 60 percent of the voters in Florida would need to approve the
amendment, sponsored by a campaign called Floridians Protecting Freedom, for
it to pass.

"We are thrilled Floridians will have the opportunity to reclaim their bodily
autonomy and freedom from government interference by voting for Amendment 4
this November," campaign director Lauren Brenzel said.

"Floridians saw the legislature pass a 15-week and then a six-week abortion
ban and this is our chance to engage in direct democracy to stop these
unpopular and harmful policies," Brenzel said in a statement.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, had urged the seven-
member state Supreme Court, which includes five members appointed by
Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, to reject the placement of the amendment on
the ballot.

- Abortion access on the ballot -

Democrats have pushed reproductive rights to the fore of the campaign for
November's general election, which is expected to feature a rematch between
Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump.

Democrats are hoping that having abortion on the ballot will boost their
turnout in Florida, won by Trump in both 2016 and 2020, and in other states.

The conservative-majority US Supreme Court, which includes three Trump
nominees, overturned the constitutional right to abortion in June 2022 and
left it up to individual states to decide the issue.
Some 20 states have since banned or restricted the procedure but voters in
several Republican majority states have pushed back against moves to limit
abortion access.

In conservative Kansas and Kentucky, as well as in the swing state of
Michigan, voters rejected ballot initiatives in 2022 that would have
effectively banned abortion.

Ohio voters passed a constitutional amendment last year ensuring abortion

In addition to Florida, there are pushes for abortion ballot measures in
numerous other states including Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland,
Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York and South Dakota.

Biden, in his annual address to Congress last month, warned Republican anti-
abortion lawmakers of the "power of women" and made it clear that
reproductive rights will be a core theme of his campaign.

Biden is a devout Catholic, but as president he has stood firm in his support
for abortion access.

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