Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Florida Supreme Court allows 6-week abortion ban to take effect, but voters will have the final say

By 37ci3 Apr1,2024


In a pair of landmark rulings, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday upheld the state’s 15-week ban on abortion, while also allowing it. proposed amendment Will provide abortion protections in state constitution to appear on November ballot.

The conservative-leaning court’s ruling on the 15-week ban also means Gov. Ron DeSantis’ six-week abortion ban, which excludes rape, consanguinity and the life of the mother, signed last year will go into effect.

But the bench allowing the constitutional amendment to appear on the ballot this fall means voters will have just seven months to overturn those restrictions.

The US Supreme Court decided to limit access to abortion in Roe v. In the nearly two years since Wade’s dismissal, Republicans have taken several steps.

In 2022, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion ban passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature, which was almost immediately challenged in court.

Then, in April 2023, just weeks before announcing his presidential campaign, he signed a six-week ban, which was immediately challenged.

In considering a preliminary challenge to the 15-week ban, the state Supreme Court said the six-week ban would be blocked until the court rules on the 15-week proposal.

The court’s judges wrote in their ruling on the bans on Monday according to the majoritythat “in accordance with the principles of long judicial deference to statutes, we conclude that there is no reason to invalidate the 15-week statute under the Privacy Clause.”

They added that Planned Parenthood, the plaintiff in the case, “cannot overcome the presumption of constitutionality and demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the 15-week ban is unconstitutional.”

As a result, the judges concluded that “the six-week ban will take effect after thirty days.”

At the same time, their decision on the proposed amendment would allow Florida voters to effectively decide whether the six-week ban should remain in effect.

Faith Halstead chants with other protesters and activists near the Florida State Capitol
Faith Halstead chants with other protesters and activists near the Florida State Capitol on April 3, 2023.Octavio Jones for The Washington Post via Getty Images

In allowing the proposed amendment to appear in November, the justices adopted a simple interpretation of their responsibility under the law in approving ballot measures: To make sure that the proposed language is not confusing, unclear or misleading, and to make sure that it does not include more. a subject.

“We approve the proposed change to the ballot,” the court’s judges wrote in their statement. feedback.

They added that the intent of the event’s sponsors was clear and that the philosophical disagreement of the opponents did not deserve to be removed from the ballot.

“That the primary purpose and intent of the proposed amendment is to limit state intervention in abortion is clearly stated in terms that clearly and unambiguously reflect the text of the proposed amendment. And the broad scope of this proposed amendment is clear from the language of the summary,” they wrote. “To deny this is to avoid reality.” is required”.

His decision Monday on the proposed amendment was the last major hurdle for voters in the red-leaning state to decide on the ballot this fall.

Reproductive rights groups exceeded the necessary valid signatures in the state needed for the measure, which state officials have already billed as “Amendment 4,” to appear on the general election ballot.

But under Florida law, the state Supreme Court must review the proposed language of any citizen-initiated constitutional amendment before it can formally advance it.

The proposed amendment would ban restrictions on abortion until fetal viability, which is considered to be about the 24th week of pregnancy. This means it will lift the six-week ban. It will also include exclusions past this point for “the patient’s health as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

Allowing the measure to appear in November could also have political ramifications: Putting the decision to expand abortion access in the hands of voters could help boost turnout in Florida among Democrats, as well as independents and Republicans who strongly support reproductive rights. That could boost Democrats’ prospects up and down the ballot in a state where the primary races for president and U.S. Senate will be closely decided this year.

An effort by pro-abortion rights groups in Florida to place the ballot measure at least one 11 people who want to put abortion rights directly in the hands of voters in the US in 2024.

Advocates on both sides of the issue have long viewed the state Supreme Court’s consideration of the proposed amendment as conservatives’ best chance to stop the measure from appearing, largely because of the court’s ideological makeup: Five of the court’s seven justices are appointed by the court. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is a staunch opponent of abortion.

The court’s review was helped by strong opposition from anti-abortion conservatives in Florida, including Republican state Attorney General Ashley Moody, who argued the ballot language was designed to confuse voters.

Moody’s specifically called the call court preventing the question from appearing on the ballot in its entirety. He described the measure as an effort to “ban” voters because supporters and opponents of abortion rights have different views on the definition of fetal viability.

Despite its ideological structure, it signaled when the judges of the conservative court opening arguments last month that they were likely for the correction to appear.

The justices were tougher in their comments to the state’s attorneys, despite asking tough questions from lawyers for Floridians Defending Freedom, the abortion rights group that led the ballot.

“It’s pretty clear that this is an aggressive, comprehensive approach to dealing with this issue,” Chief Justice Carlos Muniz said at one point, dismissing an argument that the ballot language was confusing. “The people of Florida are not stupid. They can understand what it says.”

The court’s deadline to approve or reject the proposed language was Monday.



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