Abortion initiative tops 400,000 signatures in Florida

The measure needs at least 891,523 valid petition signatures to get on the 2024 ballot. Meantime, Attorney General Ashley Moody said she will try to block the proposed state constitutional amendment.

Photo by Ernie Journeys on Unsplash

Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ensuring abortion rights have topped 400,000 valid petition signatures submitted to the state.

But Attorney General Ashley Moody said she will try to block the amendment, according to a filing Monday at the state Supreme Court.

The Florida Division of Elections website last week showed 402,082 valid signatures for the proposal, which the political committee Floridians Protecting Freedom is trying to put on the November 2024 ballot.

The total reflects signatures that have been validated, not necessarily the overall number of signatures collected.

Floridians Protecting Freedom would need to submit at least 891,523 valid petition signatures to get on the 2024 ballot. Also, it would need the Florida Supreme Court to approve the proposed ballot wording.

The committee has submitted enough signatures to trigger a Supreme Court review, though it remains unclear when that review will take place.

Floridians for Protecting Freedom announced the ballot initiative in May after the Republican-controlled Legislature approved a bill that seeks to prevent abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

The proposed amendment would bar laws that restrict abortion “before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

AG Moody said she will oppose amendment

Moody took a required step of asking the Supreme Court to review the wording of the proposed amendment, which supporters hope to put on the November 2024 ballot.

But as part of that filing, Moody wrote, “I submit that the aforementioned initiative does not satisfy the legal requirements for ballot placement.”

The Supreme Court plays a key gatekeeper role, as it reviews proposed ballot initiatives to determine if the wording is clear and is limited to single subjects. It can reject initiatives that don’t meet legal standards.

In her filing Monday, Moody said she would detail her objections in a brief that will be submitted later.

But in an opinion piece posted Friday on the Florida’s Voice website, Moody wrote that her opposition to the issue going on the ballot “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.”

She pointed to part of the proposed amendment that says it would prevent restrictions on abortion before “viability.” Moody wrote in the opinion piece that “viability” can have more than one meaning.

“While I personally would not vote for this initiative no matter what definition of ‘viability’ it was using, I know that to some voters, it is material to their vote — whether you are talking about an abortion in the first trimester or at the end of the second trimester,” the opinion piece said. “Floridians are entitled to know clearly and concisely what they are voting for or against.”

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