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HomeNewsFlorida Supreme Court Upholds 6-Week Abortion Ban, Leaves Final Decision to Voters

Florida Supreme Court Upholds 6-Week Abortion Ban, Leaves Final Decision to Voters

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The Florida Supreme Court on Monday, April 1, 2024, paved the way for the state’s six-week abortion ban to take effect. It also allows Floridians to decide whether to enshrine abortion protections in the state’s constitution in November 2024. In a pair of decisions, the Supreme Court upheld a 15-week ban on abortion in the state.

A picture of people protesting abortion ban
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By upholding Florida’s current 15-week ban on abortion, the state Supreme Court triggered a six-week abortion ban. The six-week ban, approved by Florida lawmakers last year, will take effect in 30 days. The conservative-leaning court’s decision on the 15-week ban paves the way for the six-week ban. 

Governor Ron DeSantis signed the law, which gives exceptions for rape, incest, and threat to life, into law in 2023. However, in a separate ruling, the court approved the wording of a proposed state constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights in Florida.

The court cleared it to go on the ballot as Amendment 4 in November. However, this means voters will have a chance to undo those restrictions on the ballot. Notably, Constitutional amendments in Florida need the support of at least 60% of voters to be approved.

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ALSO READ: Abortion Opponents Back Up Arguments Against Abortion Pills With Scientific Study

Monday’s rulings will make Florida one of the most restrictive states in the country to obtain an abortion. Following the verdict, the Biden campaign cast Florida as “winnable” as it seeks to mobilize voters around abortion rights. Republicans have made multiple moves since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade to restrict access to abortion.

In 2022, DeSantis, a Republican, signed a 15-week abortion ban passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature. However, abortion rights advocates immediately challenged it in court.

Then, in April 2023, weeks before he announced his presidential campaign, he signed a ban after six weeks. Similarly, groups challenged the law which restricted abortion before many women even knew they were pregnant. The state Supreme Court temporarily blocked the six-week ban in reviewing the initial challenge to the 15-week ban.

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POLL—Should Abortion Be Legal in Most Cases?

In its ruling, the court’s justices wrote, “There is no basis under the Privacy Clause to invalidate” the 15-week statute. As a result, the justices concluded, the “six-week ban will take effect in thirty days.” However, their ruling on the proposed amendment will allow Florida voters to decide whether to keep the six-week ban.

With the measure poised to appear on the state’s ballot, Florida will join several other states where voters weighed in on abortion rights. Michigan and Ohio have allowed voters to weigh in on abortion rights since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

On the plus side, experts say the initiative could also boost voter turnout in the November elections. It could raise the stakes in the election, resulting in a close rematch between Biden and Trump. Reproductive rights groups and Democrats simultaneously slammed the ruling on the ban.

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ALSO READ: Alabama Democrat Marilyn Lands Wins House Seat After Running on Abortion Rights

However, they lauded the decision on the ballot measure. In a statement, Biden slammed the ban ruling as an “extreme decision.” He said it “puts desperately needed medical care even further out of reach for millions of women in Florida.” 

Similarly, Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates Executive Director Laura Goodhue lauded the ballot measure. “We’re thrilled the Court has let the voters decide the fate of abortion access in Florida,” Goodhue said. However, she noted that the state high court’s ruling makes the initiative more critical.

“This comes at the same time they have allowed a 6-week ban to go into effect,” she added. “Making this initiative more important than ever.”

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