TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — An initiative that would enshrine the right to abortion in the Florida constitution has reached an important milestone in its effort to appear on the 2024 ballot.
On Wednesday, the group behind the initiative, Floridians Protecting Freedom, announced the Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion measure cleared the threshold that triggers judicial review.
Abortion will be fresh on the minds of Florida’s Supreme Court justices, who are scheduled to hear oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the state’s 15-week ban on Friday. The case is blocking a more restrictive six-week ban from being implemented while it is tied up in the courts.
According to the Florida Division of Elections, about a third of the 891,523 signatures needed for the measure to appear on the 2024 ballot have been validated. The measure was approved to begin collecting signatures in May.
“Florida has never seen a citizen initiative with the momentum and grassroots support of our amendment to limit government interference in personal medical decisions,” said Moné Holder, Executive Committee member of Floridians Protecting Freedom. “The September 8 oral arguments over Florida’s current 15-week ban have only served as another reminder of the threat abortion bans pose to our freedoms.”
If it appears on the ballot, the initiative would state, “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.” If approved by Florida voters, the measure “will not change the Legislature’s constitutional authority to require notification to a parent or guardian before a minor has an abortion.”
Another potential 2024 ballot measure, Adult Personal Use of Marijuana, has over 1,000,000 valid signatures, but is still in the judicial review process. Attorney General Ashley Moody submitted the initiative to the Florida Supreme Court in May.
The makeup of Florida’s top court has shifted to the right in recent years. Some pro-choice advocates fear the conservative court will be favorable towards anti-abortion arguments, in part, due to DeSantis appointing five of the seven members, including those with strong ties to the pro-life movement and legislative advocacy.
Even if it surpasses the amount of required signatures, the measure will have to clear additional hurdles before appearing on the ballot. Despite facing an uphill legal battle, Floridians Protecting Freedom believes voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on the initiative in 2024.
“Every time abortion access has been on the ballot since Roe v. Wade was overturned, voters have spoken out in support of access and keeping the government out of our private lives,” said Lauren Brenzel, Floridians Protecting Freedom Campaign Director. “Our amendment will qualify for the ballot and, come next November, Floridians will add their voices to the chorus of support across the country for patients having control of their own lives, bodies and futures.”