Attorney General Ashley Moody Moves to Block Proposed Constitutional Amendment Ensuring Abortion Rights in Florida
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a recent filing at the state Supreme Court, Attorney General Ashley Moody announced her intention to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at safeguarding abortion rights in Florida. The amendment, which supporters hope to include on the November 2024 ballot, faces scrutiny as Moody requests a review of its wording, stating, “I submit that the aforementioned initiative does not satisfy the legal requirements for ballot placement.”
The Supreme Court, acting as a pivotal gatekeeper, evaluates proposed ballot initiatives to ensure clarity and adherence to single subject limitations. It reserves the right to reject initiatives that fail to meet the necessary legal standards.
Moody’s filing on Monday indicated that she would provide detailed objections in a forthcoming brief. However, in an opinion piece published on the Florida’s Voice website last Friday, Moody clarified that her opposition to the initiative’s inclusion on the ballot “has nothing to do with my personal views on abortion. Instead, as I have done throughout my two terms, I have objected to initiatives when the language of the summary will mislead voters.”
One particular point of contention highlighted by Moody is a section of the proposed amendment that seeks to prevent restrictions on abortion prior to “viability.” Moody expressed concern in the opinion piece, stating, “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. Floridians are entitled to know clearly and concisely what they are voting for or against.”
Moody’s obligation to submit the proposal to the Supreme Court stems from the successful completion of a legal requirement by the political committee Floridians Protecting Freedom, which managed to collect 222,881 valid petition signatures. As of Monday afternoon, the committee had submitted 402,082 valid signatures. However, it is important to note that this figure represents the number of validated signatures rather than the total number of signatures collected.
In addition to securing Supreme Court approval for the proposed wording, Floridians Protecting Freedom must submit a minimum of 891,523 valid signatures by the February 1 deadline in order to secure a place on the ballot.
This ballot initiative by Floridians for Protecting Freedom was unveiled in May, shortly after the Republican-controlled Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis passed a bill aiming to restrict abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The proposed constitutional amendment intends to prevent the enactment of laws that curtail abortion rights “before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”
Similar battles over abortion have unfolded in other states since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision last year, which overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling and devolved abortion decisions to individual states.
Under the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, fetal viability was generally understood to be around 23 or 24 weeks into a pregnancy.
Lauren Brenzel, campaign director for Floridians for Protecting Freedom, expressed confidence in the appeal of the proposed amendment, stating, “Every time abortion access has been on the ballot since Roe v. Wade was overturned, voters have spoken out in support of access and keeping the government out of our private lives.” Brenzel emphasized that the initiative aimed to empower patients to maintain control over their own lives, bodies, and futures.
DeSantis and lawmakers previously passed legislation last year restricting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Florida Supreme Court is currently considering a constitutional challenge to this law.
Lawmakers went a step further this year by enacting a six-week limit, contingent on the Supreme Court upholding the 15-week law.
Moody is also contesting a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to legalize recreational marijuana use. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments regarding the wording of that initiative on November 8.
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