JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida voters could have an opportunity to vote on whether to enshrine abortion protections in the state constitution next year, but Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody is looking to block the question from the ballot.
The Florida Supreme Court is tasked with ensuring citizen initiatives abide by the single-subject rule and don’t mislead voters with vague language.
In a filing to the Florida Supreme Court, Moody requested justices to the proposed abortion amendment from the ballot, arguing it fails to meet either standard.
The amendment prohibits any state laws that “prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability” and creates exemptions for the health of the patient.
“It’s rather elegant in its simplicity and it seems very difficult to assail,” said Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa).
Driskell argued the Attorney General is attempting to thwart the ability of voters to decide how abortion should be handled in the Sunshine State.
“This office seems to be used more as a weapon against the people than as a boost to the people,” said Driskell.
But Anthony Verdugo with the Florida Christian Family Coalition argued the proposed amendment violates the single subject rule because it would reverse state laws like the 24-hour waiting period and parental consent requirement.
“Which we worked on for over 30 years. Parental consent is seen as a barrier per the wording of this amendment,” said Verdugo.
He also argued the term ‘viability’ is too vague and the exception in the proposed amendment is essentially limitless.
“Not the life of the mother, but the health of the mother. Legally speaking, the health of the mother is such a huge loophole that you can drive a Mack Truck right through it,” said Verdugo.
Moody successfully challenged two efforts to put recreational marijuana on the ballot on similar grounds in the recent past.
Although Driskell doesn’t agree with Moody’s assessment of the abortion initiative, she fears the conservative-leaning court could move to block it from the ballot anyway.
“That’s always a very real concern, but there also is the strong will of the people here to make sure that women have access to abortion care as they need it,” said Driskell.
The abortion initiative currently has over 400,000 valid signatures or roughly half of the nearly 900,000 it needs by February 1st to make the 2024 ballot.
It’s unclear when the state supreme court will hear and rule on the ballot language.
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