Florida’s Top Court Enforces Six-Week Abortion Ban, But Voters Will Decide

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Florida's Top Court Enforces Six-Week Abortion Ban, But Voters Will Decide

Florida‘s highest court has cleared the path for the enforcement of the state’s six-week abortion ban while also granting voters the opportunity to weigh in on the matter.

In a recent ruling, justices upheld Florida’s existing 15-week abortion ban, allowing for the subsequent implementation of the six-week ban.

However, the court has authorized a referendum in November, enabling Floridians to decide whether abortion access should be enshrined in the state constitution.

Despite widespread support for legalized abortion in the United States, there is also considerable backing for restrictions on the procedure.

The upcoming abortion ballot initiative has the potential to mobilize liberal voters in a state crucial for presidential elections, which has leaned conservative in recent years.

In a 6-1 decision on Monday, Florida’s Republican-appointed justices determined that the state constitution, particularly its privacy protections, does not extend to abortion access.

This decision upholds Florida’s existing 15-week abortion ban, which was enacted in 2022.

Last year, Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed a six-week abortion ban into law, contingent upon the legal resolution of the 15-week ban.

Following the recent ruling, the six-week ban can take effect within 30 days, despite concerns that many women may not be aware of their pregnancy at such an early stage.

Groups such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the ban in a lawsuit.

In a separate ruling, the Florida Supreme Court voted 4-3 to allow a proposed constitutional amendment safeguarding abortion access to appear on the November ballot.

The ballot question asks voters to approve a statement affirming that no law shall inhibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health.

Viability typically occurs around 24 weeks gestation, when a foetus could survive outside the uterus.

The amendment clarifies that it does not impede the legislature’s authority to require parental notification for minors seeking abortions.

Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody opposed the ballot question.

States like Ohio, Michigan, and Kansas have passed ballot measures supporting abortion rights following the US Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn nationwide abortion protections.

In Florida, a constitutional amendment requires approval from 60% of voters, a higher threshold than in other states.

If passed, the amendment could effectively reverse both the 15-week and six-week abortion bans.

President Joe Biden views Florida’s abortion debate as a potential pathway to victory in the state’s upcoming elections. His campaign believes that championing the issue could sway voters in his favor. Florida was won by former President Donald Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 elections.


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