Florida lawmakers react to state’s Supreme Court decisions on abortion

ORLANDO, Fla. — The fate of abortion in Florida will now be up to the voters.


On Monday, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the state’s current 15-week abortion ban, which paves the way for a six-week abortion ban passed by the legislature to become law soon.

The state’s high court also approved the wording of a proposed constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights to be put on the November ballot.

“When voters head to the polls this November, they will send a message to Florida politicians,” said Lauren Brenzel, campaign director, Yes on 4. “Decisions about whether or not to have an abortion should be between a patient and a provider, not between a constituent and their politician.”

Read: Florida Supreme Court upholds state’s 15-week ban on most abortions

“This amendment rolls us back to the dark ages before advancements in science and medicine and before Roe vs. Wade. It is broad. It is far-reaching,” said Republican State Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka.

Since the court’s decision on the 15-week ban, the six-week ban passed by the legislature last year will now go into effect within the month.

Which is something Republican and Democrat leaders have vastly different opinions on.

Read: Voters to decide in November whether to protect abortion rights, legalize recreational marijuana

“We begin when a child has a heartbeat, and then we also have brought exceptions for rape, incest, human trafficking, the life of the mother, fetal abnormalities, so it’s a compromise that addresses where I think many Floridians are and is a good place for us to land,” said Republican Speaker for the Florida House of Representatives Paul Renner.

“At six weeks, you don’t even know you’re pregnant yet,” said Democratic State Rep. Anna Eskamani. “So this is a near total abortion ban that will go into effect in 30 days. So, it creates such chaos in the medical field. It’s going to lead to Floridians having to go as far as Virginia to access the care that they need, and it will have life-risking consequences.”

The court also ruled that a ballot initiative looking to protect the right to an abortion in the state can go before voters in November.

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This is how Amendment 4 will appear on the ballot:

“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. This amendment does not change the legislature’s constitutional authority to require notification to a parent or guardian before a minor has an abortion.”

The point of viability is generally considered to be between 22 - 24 weeks.

Republican lawmakers fear the language is too vague and would essentially allow for abortion on demand.

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Democrats say that’s not the case, and it sets things back to how they were previously.

“You have ‘when necessary to protect the patient’s health’-- health is not defined in the ballot amendment,” said Republican State Sen. Erin Grall. Health could be viewed to be a headache or a stomach ache and is that really a person’s health?”

“The people aren’t stupid. Give it to the people and let them decide on the substantive issues,” said Chair of the Florida Democratic Party Nikki Fried. “If they don’t like the language and feel like the language went too far, then they vote no. But the reality of the situation is that democracy only works when this in fact gets on the ballot.”

The Amendment needs 60% of the vote to pass. Leaders with both parties tell us they are moving full steam ahead to make their case to voters to come out in November.

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