Abortion rights to appear on Florida ballots as strict ban pushes through

Miami, Florida - The Florida Supreme Court agreed on Monday to allow an abortion rights amendment to be on the ballot in the state in November, in the latest legal tussle over an issue Democrats are championing in an election year.

The Florida Supreme Court agreed on Monday to allow an abortion rights amendment to be on the ballot in the state in November.
The Florida Supreme Court agreed on Monday to allow an abortion rights amendment to be on the ballot in the state in November.  © MARK WALLHEISER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

While permitting an abortion rights amendment to appear on the ballot, the top court in the southern state simultaneously allowed a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy to soon take effect.

Abortion is currently allowed in Florida up to 15 weeks of pregnancy, but a Republican-backed law slashes that to six weeks – before many women even know they are pregnant.

The conservative-dominated state supreme court was considering both the legality of the abortion restrictions and the proposed amendment that would enshrine a woman's right to abortion in the Florida constitution.

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Amendment 4, as it is called, reads in part: "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 health care provider."

The viability of a fetus outside the womb is generally considered to be around 24 weeks.

Florida's six-week ban on abortion would be among strictest in US

At least 60% of the voters in Florida would need to approve the amendment, sponsored by a campaign called Floridians Protective Freedom, for it to pass.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, had urged the seven-member state Supreme Court, which includes five members appointed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, to reject the placement of the amendment on the ballot.

Democrats have pushed reproductive rights to the fore of the campaign for November's general election, which is expected to feature a rematch between Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump.

Cover photo: MARK WALLHEISER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

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