Florida AG Ashley Moody faces pushback for trying to block abortion ballot measure

By Giselle Balido

October 11, 2023

Despite Moody’s challenge, Senate Democratic Minority Leader Lauren Book expressed confidence the measure would move forward. “We will win this latest challenge, we will put abortion rights on the ballot,” Book says. 

Senate Democratic Minority Leader Lauren Book (D-Davie) has issued a scathing statement after Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a motion to challenge a proposed constitutional amendment that would protect abortion access under the Florida Constitution.

In her statement, Book calls out the Attorney General for “attempting to prevent our measure from ever making it on the ballot.” 

Book and advocates from Floridians Protecting Freedom and the Reproductive Freedom Collective of Broward are fighting to put abortion on the ballot in November 2024.

If the coalition is able to secure roughly 900,000 valid voter signatures by Feb. 1 – and if the state Supreme Court signs off on the measure’s language – then it would give Florida voters the chance to guarantee abortion access “before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

RELATED: Florida Democrat Introduces Bill to Protect Abortion Seekers from Criminal Charges

Moody, who opposes abortion, took a required step of asking the court to review the wording of the proposed amendment. As part of that legal filing, Moody wrote, “I submit that the aforementioned initiative does not satisfy the legal requirements for ballot placement.”

Moody explained her opposition in an opinion piece published last week on the Florida’s Voice website. She claimed that her opposition to the measure going on the ballot “has nothing to do with my personal views on abortion.”

Instead, she argued that the language of the initiative would “mislead voters,” saying that the term “viability” can have more than one meaning.

“While I personally would not vote for this initiative no matter what definition of ‘viability’ it was using, I know that to some voters, it is material to their vote — whether you are talking about an abortion in the first trimester or at the end of the second trimester,” the opinion piece said. “Floridians are entitled to know clearly and concisely what they are voting for or against.”

In reality, viability is largely understood to mean the point at which the fetus is viable outside the uterus, which is usually between 23 and 24 weeks.

Despite the challenge, Book expressed confidence the measure would move forward.

“We will win this latest challenge, we will put abortion rights on the ballot, and voters will choose to restore women’s rights, because at the end of the day, Florida’s ban on women’s fundamental rights is dangerous, unpopular, and wrong,” Book said. 

Alejandra Rondon, Latinx constituency manager at Florida Rising, Florida’s largest independent political progressive organization, agrees with Leader Book’s assessment. 

RELATED: How Floridians Are Fighting DeSantis’ Abortion Ban

“We have had great success so far in gathering signatures…  I think there’s a ton of momentum.”

Moody’s effort to block the measure comes at a crucial time. The Florida Supreme Court last month heard oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 15-week abortion ban. If the court approves the 15-week ban, a six-week ban signed into law by DeSantis would take effect 30 days later, cutting off access to abortion early in the first trimester. 

The ban was opposed by Democrats, including Orlando-area State Rep. Anna Eskamani.

“As Americans, we won’t be truly free until everyone can make decisions about their own bodies, lives, reproductive care, and futures. Which is why we will continue to fight like hell against this ban, and all new abortion bans,”  Eskamani said before the state senate earlier this year.

An early 2023 University of North Florida (UNF) poll showed 75% of Floridians also opposed a six-week abortion ban, with 62 percent opposing it “strongly” (the poll described the law as having no exceptions, while the bill DeSantis signed has exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest).

If the six-week ban goes into effect, it would devastate women, Rondon said, especially those who suffer medical complications or miscarriages “hat can happen that could put their life at risk or the baby’s life at risk.”

“Florida has become one of 20 states that has either severely restricted or completely restricted access to abortion, and I think we’re already seeing severe effects where women are not able to access the health care that they need, and it’s devastating,” Rondon said.

Author

  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

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