Abortion initiative could get key review

Roe v Wade rally after SCOTUS decision
"Access to abortion is health care" sign at the “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally along the downtown waterfront of St. Petersburg, Florida. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (24 June 2022).

©2023 The News Service of Florida

Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ensuring abortion rights appear to have enough valid petition signatures to trigger a crucial Florida Supreme Court review.

The state Division of Elections website Friday listed 297,586 valid petition signatures for the initiative, above the 222,881 signatures needed to lead to a Supreme Court review of the proposed ballot wording. Information on the website also indicated the political committee Floridians Protection Freedom had met a requirement that involves submitting certain amounts of valid petition signatures in at least half of the state’s congressional districts.

After receiving notification from Secretary of State Cord Byrd that the thresholds have been met, Attorney General Ashley Moody would ask the Supreme Court for an opinion on the proposed ballot wording.

Those steps had not been taken as of mid-day Friday, according to the Division of Elections website. 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.”

The Supreme Court would review the proposal to make sure it includes only a single subject and would not mislead voters. If justices sign off on the wording, Floridians Protecting Freedom would need to submit at least 891,523 valid petition signatures statewide to get on the November 2024 ballot. Floridians Protecting Freedom said in an Aug. 15 news release that it had collected more than 600,000 petition signatures. Signatures have to be validated before they can be included in the Division of Elections count.

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