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Abortion protection ballot initiative is 'misleading' says Florida AG

Florida Supreme Court Building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Florida Supreme Court Building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On Monday Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a proposal with the Florida Supreme Court that would prevent a petition from adding an amendment regarding abortion protections to the 2024 election ballot.

"For reasons that will be set forth in the brief to be filed with the Court at the appropriate time, I submit that the aforementioned initiative does not satisfy the legal requirements for ballot placement," said Moody to the State Court.

The petition is by the Floridians Protecting Freedom campaign — a group made up of the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and Florida Rising, among other organizations. The petition is to include the "Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion" on the 2024 ballot.

The argument of 'viability'

The proposed amendment would make it so "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."

Viability is the keyword.

Moody lambasted the "Amendment to Limit Government" Friday in an opinion piece on the Florida Voice as "one of the worst" initiatives she's ever seen.

"As just one example of how misleading this initiative is, the initiative creates a right to abortion through “viability.” As any mother knows, “viability” has two meanings when it comes to pregnancy," she wrote.

"Viability" according to Moody, means whether or not a baby is expected to have a normal gestation through delivery, and whether or not a baby can survive outside of the uterus.

Moody's office did not respond to WMFE's request for comment.

Lauren Brenzel, the campaign director for Floridians Protecting Freedom issued a response to the attorney general calling Moody's proposal an "attempt to silence voters."

"The proposed amendment is clear and precise in limiting government interference with abortion 'before viability,’" Brenzel said. "This is a disingenuous argument by a politician desperate to block Floridians from voting on this amendment. Voters know what viability means and they will see right through this effort to silence their voice."

Brenzel defined "viability" as the stage of fetal development when the life of a fetus is sustainable outside the womb through standard medical measures.

According to the Websters Dictionary, viability is defined as "a fetus it means having reached such a stage of development as to be capable of living, under normal conditions, outside the uterus."

Upcoming deadlines

Moody stated she would file a brief against the proposed amendment with the state court at an appropriate time. Meanwhile, Floridians Protecting Freedoms has had over 400,000 signatures validated for its petition. The ballot initiative must submit 891,523 valid signatures by a Feb. 1 deadline to make the 2024 ballot.

Currently, a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The rule took effect in 2022. The Florida Supreme Court is reviewing oral arguments made by the ACLU and the state regarding a ruling that potentially could trigger a six-week ban passed earlier this year. 

Originally from South Florida, Joe Mario came to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where he graduated with degrees in Radio & Television Production, Film, and Psychology. He worked several beats and covered multimedia at The Villages Daily Sun but returned to the City Beautiful as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel where he covered crime, hurricanes, and viral news. Joe Mario has too many interests and not enough time but tries to focus on his love for strange stories in comic books and horror movies. When he's not writing he loves to run in his spare time.
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