Florida abortion rights amendment gets enough signatures for 2024 ballot

Image via Shutterstock/Chris Haris

By Giselle Balido

January 5, 2024

Floridians Protecting Freedom, the group backing the abortion amendment, still needs official confirmation that the signature requirements have been met. The secretary of state has until Feb. 1 to make that determination.

With a statewide count of 910,946 valid signatures–more than the required 891,523–a proposed constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights in Florida has enough signatures to qualify to be on the ballot for the November 2024 election.

This is according to unofficial numbers reported by the Florida Division of Elections and posted on the state’s elections website Friday. 

Floridians Protecting Freedom (FPF), the group backing the abortion amendment, still needs official confirmation that the signature requirements have been met. The Florida secretary of state has until Feb. 1 to make that determination.

The FPF campaign came in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis signing a bill last year to ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. That ban will take effect if the Supreme Court upholds a 15-week abortion ban DeSantis signed in 2022. The six-week ban would result in felony charges for “any person who willfully performs or actively participates in a termination of pregnancy.”

Pro-choice advocates warn that if the Florida Supreme Court approves the 15-week abortion ban, which would allow the six-week ban to go into effect 30 days later, it could disproportionately hurt Latinas in Florida. That is because Florida is home to 1.4 million Latinas of reproductive age, and of this population 558,000 are economically insecure.

“Marginalized women will be most affected [if the six-week ban goes into effect], and any woman that suffers an unfortunate medical situation or miscarriage or any other number of medical conditions that could put their life at risk or the baby’s life at risk,” Alejandra Rondon, co-lead on floridalibertad.com, the Spanish language arm of the Floridians Protecting Freedom campaign which is seeking to place abortion rights on the 2024 ballot in Florida.

RELATED: Here’s where Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani gets her drive—and her empathy—to keep fighting for abortion rights

Renewed optimism

The proposed amendment would override DeSantis’ six-week ban by enshrining abortion rights into the state Constitution.

The ballot initiative’s summary states in part, “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.” 

The signature campaign’s apparent success has renewed the hope that the legality of abortion in Florida will be decided by the voters, not by state politicians.

“The fact that we only launched our campaign eight months ago and we’ve already reached our petition goal speaks to the unprecedented support and momentum there is to get politicians out of our private lives and health care decisions,” campaign director Lauren Brenzel said.

Hurdles remain

Despite FPF’s success obtaining enough voter signatures, the proposed amendment is facing opposition from Attorney General Ashley Moody, who has asked the state Supreme Court to weigh issues such as whether the amendment’s wording is clear to voters. Among other objections, Moody claims that the word “viability” is part of an “overall design to lay ticking time bombs that will enable abortion proponents later to argue that the amendment has a much broader meaning than voters would ever have thought.”

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.

In November, Floridians Protecting Freedom responded to Moody’s claim in a brief.

“The attorney general argues the term ‘viability’ has lost its meaning in the abortion context, notwithstanding the countless sources consistently defining it in line with common understanding,” the brief said. “[Voters] can be trusted to know what it would mean to live in a world limiting government interference with abortion before viability.”

If the amendment makes the ballot, it must win at least 60% of the vote to secure passage.

An early 2023 University of North Florida (UNF) poll showed 75% of Floridians opposed a six-week abortion ban, with 62% opposing it “strongly.” 

RELATED: Florida Republicans trying to block voters from deciding abortion rights

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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