Abortion access, recreational pot on Florida ballot, state court clears path for 6-week abortion ban

Jacksonville, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court approved two proposed constitutional amendments dealing with abortion access and recreational marijuana for placement on the November ballot Monday afternoon.


In the same release of rulings, the court also upheld Florida’s 15-week abortion ban, ruling the state constitution does not protect abortion access in its current form.

That ruling means the more restrictive six-week abortion ban will go into effect in 30 days, but given the rulings on the proposed amendments, the new restriction might be short-lived.

If approved by voters, Amendment 4 would prohibit any laws restricting abortion access before viability and provide expectations beyond that point when a patient’s health is at risk as determined by a healthcare professional.

“This is a huge win for the people of Florida,” said State Representative Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando).

Eskamani said she’s confident the abortion amendment will make the 60 percent threshold for approval in the General Election.

“When voters are given the opportunity this November to decide, do they want politicians to take away this right, this freedom, or do they want to make decisions with themselves, their loved ones, their doctors, and their God, that we will win,” said Eskamani.

Andrew Shrivell with Florida Voice for the Unborn on the other hand said he and other anti-abortion activists will now gear up to launch an opposition campaign.

“The proposal put forth by the Florida abortion industry is extremely radical,” said Shirvell.

He argued the lack of definitions for terms like “patient’s health” and “viability” could open the door to abortions in the third trimester.

“It would basically be the wild, wild west of abortion regulation in our state,” said Sherivell.

The State Supreme Court also gave the green light to Amendment 3, a ballot initiative that proposes legalizing recreational marijuana for those 21 and up Monday.

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Jodi James with the Florida Cannabis Action Network said she’s optimistic Florida voters will overwhelmingly support the measure, which is expected to generate a minimum of $200 million in tax revenue each year.

“I think it’s 219 days that we have to convince voters that they’re gonna be better off in a state where consumers have a product that is safe and regulated,” said James.

With abortion access and legal weed now officially approved for the November ballot, voters will have more to motivate them to turn out to the polls than just the race for President.

Eskamani argued Republicans are likely to face a tidal wave of progressive voters casting ballots, especially with the now more restrictive six-week ban set to take effect.

“Republicans’ extremism has put them in a lose-lose situation, which is their own doing,” said Eskamani.

But UNF political science professor Dr. Michael Binder isn’t so sure the measures will make a significant turnout difference in a Presidential Election year.

“During the Presidential Election, typically speaking, the folks that are gonna vote are gonna vote,” said Binder.

Binder pointed to states like Ohio, which are more conservative but still approved abortion amendments in recent years.

READ: Florida bill would authorize wrongful death suits on behalf of the unborn

In that state, votes for abortion protections didn’t necessarily translate to Democratic electoral victories.

“If Joe Biden wins Florida, he’s gonna rack up almost 400 electoral votes. It’s not gonna be close. So, the assumption is that this is gonna be a Red state come November,” said Binder.

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) argued both the marijuana and abortion amendments go further than they may seem at face value, and voters are likely to reject them.

“They go much, much farther than where most Floridians are including pro-choice Floridians, including in the case of marijuana those that believe in medical marijuana,” said Renner.

But Binder did note abortion and marijuana are issues that could drive younger voters out to the polls, who do tend to be more progressive in their views.

Even still, with the measures needing 60 percent support for approval, Binder argued the amendments face an uphill battle in a state that has been trending redder and redder in recent years.

If either measure garners a well-funded opposition campaign as expected, that math becomes even more difficult.

“I think the chances go down pretty dramatically,” said Binder.

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