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Approval from Florida Supreme Court for 15-Week Pro-Life Legislation and Inclusion of Abortion Amendment on Ballot

The Florida Supreme Court has made a ruling allowing the enforcement of the state’s 15-week abortion ban and permitting a comprehensive abortion amendment to be included on the November ballot.

In two distinct decisions, the court upheld Florida’s 15-week abortion ban and paved the way for a proposed amendment that critics argue could nullify nearly all of the state’s pro-life legislation, potentially legalizing abortion up to the point of birth.

The first ruling upheld Florida’s 15-week pro-life statute, enacted by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022. By a 6-1 majority, the court determined that abortion is not protected under the state’s right-to-privacy provision. This decision also facilitates the implementation of the state’s six-week Heartbeat Protection Act, which is presently under injunction, to come into effect within 30 days.

Concurrently, another ruling concluded that the proposed amendment satisfies Florida’s criteria by being clearly worded and focused on a single issue, criteria that opponents contested the amendment did not meet.

If approved, the amendment would alter the Florida Constitution to incorporate a provision stating: “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 health care provider.”

The Florida Supreme Court, in its judgment, referenced a prior ruling stating that it lacks the authority to assess the merits or wisdom of these proposed amendments. The court emphasized that the ballot title and summary effectively inform voters of the primary purpose of the amendment without being misleading.

With the amendment now slated for the ballot, Florida’s pro-life laws, including the six-week and 15-week restrictions, will be subject to the voters’ decision on November 5.

Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, who presented arguments against the amendment before the state Supreme Court, criticized the wording of the amendment as misleading and cautioned that its passage would nullify all pro-life laws in Florida, including those pertaining to post-viability and third-trimester abortions.

Despite the amendment ostensibly targeting pre-viability pro-life laws, Staver contended that its ambiguous language could effectively permit abortions up to birth in Florida.

Furthermore, the amendment’s broad definition of a healthcare provider, according to Staver, could encompass various professions beyond traditional medical roles, such as a tattoo artist or a 911 operator.

Julia Friedland, a representative for Governor DeSantis, echoed concerns about the misleading nature of the amendment, emphasizing that it obscures its true intent of allowing abortions until birth.

In response to the court’s decision, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed disappointment and urged Floridians to reject the amendment, emphasizing the potential dangers it poses to human life and the progress made in safeguarding women’s health in the context of abortion.

The bishops vowed to actively oppose the amendment and encouraged voters to vote against Amendment 4 in the upcoming election.

The Florida bishops have consistently opposed the amendment, previously arguing that its title inaccurately implies a limitation on government interference while effectively prohibiting all regulations before viability.

Angela Curatalo, the director of the Respect Life Office at the Archdiocese of Miami, criticized the extreme and deceptive nature of the amendment, highlighting its detrimental impact on Floridians. She emphasized the need for voters to understand the full implications of the proposal, which could essentially legalize abortion up to the moment of birth and eliminate crucial regulations safeguarding minors and ensuring informed consent for abortions.