Florida Court Weighs Ballot Measure to Allow Abortion ‘Before Viability’

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Florida Court Weighs Ballot Measure to Allow Abortion ‘Before Viability’

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Several justices pushed back on Wednesday against arguments that the language of the proposed constitutional amendment was too broad and would deceive voters.

A line of people wait to enter the Florida Supreme Court building, a neoclassical structure with a columned portico, flanked by palmetto trees.
The Florida Supreme Court, where justices will hear arguments on a proposed ballot issue regarding abortion on Wednesday.Credit…Brendan Farrington/Associated Press

Patricia Mazzei

The Florida Supreme Court seemed reluctant on Wednesday to block a proposed measure protecting abortion rights from appearing on the November ballot, even though several members of the conservative-leaning court questioned whether the measure’s language made clear its potentially sweeping effects.

The constitutional amendment would ask Floridians to “limit government interference with abortion” before a fetus is considered viable, which is often around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

If the language summarizing the initiative on the ballot is not deceptive, several justices indicated, then it would be up to voters — and not the court — to decide whether they agree with such a broad measure.

“The people of Florida aren’t stupid,” Chief Justice Carlos G. Muñiz said during a hearing in Tallahassee. “I mean, they can figure this out.”

Florida, the nation’s third-most-populous state, was until recently a frequent destination for women from the South seeking an abortion, because it allowed the procedure up to about 24 weeks. But in 2022, the state enacted a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, and last year, a ban after six weeks.

Floridians are awaiting a ruling from the state Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the 15-week ban. If, as expected, the court affirms it, the way would be cleared for the six-week ban to take effect.


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