Florida Supreme Court’s ruling triggers DeSantis’ 6 week abortion ban

On April 1st, the conservative Florida Supreme Court ruled 4-3 to uphold the state’s 15-week abortion ban. As a result, the ruling has triggered Gov. Ron DeSantis’ extreme 6-week abortion ban, which is set to take effect in just 30 days. The state Supreme Court’s decision rests on the notion that the state constitution’s privacy clause has no basis to invalidate the 15-week ban abortion statute, following the reasoning of the U.S. Supreme Court when Roe was overturned. This has, ultimately, ended Florida’s status as a “safe haven” for Southern patients seeking abortion care from other states with even more restrictive legislation. 

However, voters could potentially overturn the amendment via a ballot initiative in November as long as the measure receives 60% of the votes. The ballot initiative, Amendment 4, would establish a constitutional right to abortion “before fetal viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health.” Viability is generally estimated to be around 24 weeks. 

In 2022, after the Dobbs Supreme Court decision, Ron DeSantis signed HB-5, the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act. This bill “prohibits an abortion after an unborn child has reached 15 weeks of gestation.” DeSantis then signed SB-300 in 2023, the Heartbeat Protection Act, which is said to protect “innocent, unborn life by prohibiting abortions after six weeks gestation.” These two pieces of legislation have been argued as going “far beyond where most Floridians would land on the issue,” exacerbating the discontent of constituents. 

It is clear that abortion rights will be front and center in November’s election as Florida joins at least 8 other states with ballot referendums centered around reproductive rights.

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