Florida attorney general fighting possible amendment to ensure abortion rights

Florida attorney general fighting possible amendment to ensure abortion rights

(As originally published with additional photos and videos, Mon, October 9th 2023, 8:51 PM EDT)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (TND) — Florida’s attorney general took her first step to block a proposed constitutional amendment that would ensure abortion rights in the Sunshine State.

Ashley Moody asked the state Supreme Court to review the wording of the proposed amendment. That’s a required step in Florida.

As part of her filing, Moody wrote,

”I submit that the aforementioned initiative does not satisfy the legal requirements for ballot placement.”

To appear on a ballot, the state Supreme Court has to verify the wording is clear and limited to single subjects.

Moody also wrote that she’d detail her objections in a brief to be submitted later.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment by Lenny Cohen on Scribd

The title of the proposal is “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion,” and the full text reads, “Limiting government interference with abortion.— Except as provided in Article X, Section 22, 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.”

That exception explicitly says it will not change the legislature’s requirement that a parent or guardian be notified before a minor has an abortion.

As of Monday, the petition in favor of the proposal has 400,000 valid signatures statewide, with other signatures waiting to be counted. Florida residents can sign online. The proposal needs 891,523 valid signatures by Feb. 1. The group responsible for the initiative, Floridians Protecting Freedom, hopes to get it on the November 2024 ballot, which will also be the presidential election.

Moody is a Republican and key ally of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Last week, she wrote on Florida’s Voice:

“I am pro-life, unabashedly so. I have been clear and open with Florida’s voters about where I stand on abortion, and I am honored to have received their support—by a large margin—in two statewide elections.”

Then, she explained her opposition to the proposed amendment

“has nothing to do with my personal views on abortion. Instead, as I have done throughout my two terms, I have objected to initiatives when the language of the summary will mislead voters.”

Instead, Moody claimed “viability” can have more than one meaning.

Florida attorney general fighting possible amendment to ensure abortion rights
FILE – Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody talks about the state’s renewed push to hire out-of-state law enforcement officers during a news conference at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, April 19, 2023. (Pool)

“Floridians are entitled to know clearly and concisely what they are voting for or against,” she wrote.

There have been ballot fights in other states since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June of last year. That ruling left abortion decisions to states and before, fetal viability was generally understood to mean about 23 or 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

Last year, DeSantis and the legislature passed an abortion restriction law. Abortions would not be allowed after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The ban has no exemptions for rape or incest. It does allow exemptions if the pregnancy is a serious risk to the mother or if a fatal fetal abnormality is detected — with a major condition:

“To prevent a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, which must be certified in writing by two physicians, or by one physician in the case of an emergency if a second physician is not available.”

The state Supreme Court is still weighing a constitutional challenge to that but in the meantime, lawmakers went even further.

They passed a six-week limit, one of the strictest in the nation, but that’ll only take effect if the 15-week law is upheld.

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