Florida Supreme Court clears the way for abortion ballot initiative while upholding 15-week abortion ban

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Monday that a state constitutional amendment that would limit government intervention in abortion procedures across Florida meets the necessary requirements to appear on ballots this November, and at the same time upheld Florida’s 15-week abortion ban.

The court, which usually issues decisions on Thursdays, issued the rulings in a pair of out-of-calendar opinions.

The pro-abortion rights ballot initiative was introduced by Floridians Protecting Freedoms, a statewide campaign that argues “that all Floridians deserve the freedom to make personal medical decisions, including about abortion, free of government intrusion,” according to its website. 

The ballot measure, which will appear on ballots this fall as Amendment 4, would allow abortions before viability, but it would still require parents to be notified if a minor has an abortion. 

“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,” the ballot measure reads. “This amendment does not change the Legislature’s constitutional authority to require notification to a parent or guardian before a minor has an abortion.” 

Amendment 4 will require 60% support to pass.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, had argued against the proposed amendment, taking issue with the word “viability” in the ballot initiative. In a brief filed to the court in November, Moody said, “There is no single formally recognized clinical definition of ‘viability.'” 

Lawyers representing Floridians Protecting Freedoms argued that “viability” is not ambiguous and that voters understand what it means in the context of an abortion. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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