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Florida Supreme Court Upholds 15-Week Abortion Limit

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The Florida Supreme Court issued two major rulings on abortion, upholding the state’s 15-week limit while allowing a proposed constitutional amendment ensuring abortion access to appear on the November ballot.

This clears the way for Florida’s six-week abortion ban to take effect.

“We approve the proposed amendment for placement on the ballot,” justices wrote.

The court found the 15-week limit did not violate privacy rights.

“That the proposed amendment’s principal goal and chief purpose is to limit government interference with abortion is plainly stated in terms that clearly and unambiguously reflect the text of the proposed amendment,” they wrote. “And the broad sweep of this proposed amendment is obvious in the language of the summary. Denying this requires a flight from reality.”

The court’s decision “takes no position on the scope of legislative discretion that would remain if the proposed amendment were to become law,” they wrote.

“The question for our consideration here is not whether the proposed constitutional language itself is free of any ambiguity or whether there are uncertainties regarding the potential legal effect if the proposed amendment were to pass but whether the ballot summary misleads voters as to the new constitutional language voters are asked to adopt in the proposed amendment itself. In other words, it asks whether the ballot summary will give voters a false impression about what is contained in the actual text of the proposed amendment,” they added.

“The ballot summary essentially follows the language of the proposed amendment. It says nothing more and nothing less than what the operative language of the proposed amendment itself says. In light of this almost verbatim recitation of the text of the proposed amendment, it cannot be said that the ballot summary will mislead voters regarding the actual text of the proposed amendment.”

Pro-choice and pro-life groups reacted mixed to the dual rulings.

If passed, the amendment would override both limits and effectively create abortion access up to viability.

“The stakes for protecting reproductive freedom in Florida have never been higher. With a near-total abortion ban set to go into effect in 30 days, essential health care will be pushed out of the hands of millions because of this Florida Supreme Court decision. But Floridians have the opportunity to fight back against this Republican law that strips them of their bodily autonomy just like voters have in every other abortion ballot initiative across the country,” EMILYs List president Jessica Mackler said.

“Today’s victory for unborn children who have a heartbeat and can feel pain is in line with the views of the majority of Floridians who want to protect babies and serve mothers and families,” Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America’s State Policy Director Katie Daniel stated.

“As Florida faces what may be its biggest ballot fight yet, Gov. Ron DeSantis must be at the forefront of protecting Florida from Big Abortion’s attempt to eliminate the rights of unborn children, parents, women, and girls. Gov. DeSantis signed protections for babies who feel pain and have a heartbeat into law and now he must lead in defending those protections.”

Biden’s campaign sees the issue galvanizing Democrats in Florida.

Polls show most Floridians support some limits but also want abortion legal in many cases, setting up a pivotal ballot fight that could impact the 2024 presidential election.

“Abortion rights will be front and center in Florida this election cycle,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez said.

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