Deceptive Abortion Initiative in Florida Must Be Rejected

Dec 20, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, FL – As pro-abortion activist groups try to establish unlimited human genocide in Florida with a proposed amendment that would codify unrestricted abortion as a right in the state constitution, Liberty Counsel continues to urge the Florida Supreme Court not to approve it. 

Liberty Counsel recently filed a reply brief on behalf of Florida Voters Against Extremism (FLVAE) urging the Florida Supreme Court not to approve the wording of a proposed amendment that would codify unrestricted abortion as a right in the state’s constitution. In the reply brief, Liberty Counsel argues that the initiative is misleading and deceptive and violates the single subject rule. In the brief, Liberty Counsel states the sponsor completely sidesteps these legal issues and fails to provide a meaningful rebuttal. 

The proposed amendment, “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion,” would create a new section in the Florida Constitution “limiting government interference with abortion.” The full text of the accompanying ballot summary states: “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 2024 Florida Department of State’s Initiative Petition Handbook states that to be placed on the ballot for this election cycle, a petition must be signed by 891,523 verified voter signatures statewide by February 1, 2024. In addition, “the signatures must come from a number of electors in each of one half of the congressional districts of the state, and of the state as a whole, equal to eight percent of the votes cast in each of such districts respectively and in the state as a whole in the last preceding election in which presidential electors were chosen.” 

Currently, a total of 753,771 have already been verified, according to the Florida Division of Elections. Yet, “statewide and congressional district totals for ballot position are not official until the Secretary of State determines the requisite signatures have been obtained and issues a certificate of ballot position.” More signatures for the proposed amendment are apparently in the verification process, which can take a month to complete. 

The proposed amendment is sponsored by Floridians Protecting Freedom, Inc., a political committee supported by the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other groups that support the termination of preborn humans through unrestricted abortion on demand. Even the name, Floridians Protecting Freedom, is deceptive when their objective is to “protect Floridians’ access to abortion as reproductive health care.” 

In fact, this initiative has serious deficiencies and falls short of the requirements under Florida law to be placed on the ballot for voters. 

The proposed amendment misleads voters and hides the true purpose behind the amendment and its effect, which is to enshrine a right of abortion in Florida for any reason, at any stage of the pregnancy. The effect of the proposed amendment would prevent the State of Florida from regulating all abortions that a vague and undefined “healthcare provider” may deem “necessary” to protect the woman’s “health.” The amendment leaves the terms “necessary” or “health” purposefully undefined and vague, concealing that the true purpose is to confuse Florida voters and create an unrestricted right to abortion at all stages of pregnancy up to birth. For example, if adopted, the proposed amendment would authorize, as a matter of state law, activities that would constitute violations of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. This conflict alone with the federal law disqualifies the proposed amendment. 

The proposed amendment also violates the Florida Constitution’s single-subject requirement by addressing multiple subjects, including pre-viability abortions and protection of women’s health, in the same proposal. Those are distinct issues that cannot permissibly be put into a single ballot initiative. 

In addition, the amendment would substantially alter the function of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Florida government. Currently, the legislative branch is authorized to “prohibit” abortion through legislation; the executive branch is authorized to “penalize” citizens who violate abortion laws; and the judicial branch is authorized to “delay” or “restrict” any illegal or unconstitutional conduct. Lumping functional alterations to each branch of government in one amendment also violates the single-subject requirement. 

On April 13, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law SB 300, known as the “Heartbeat Protection Act,” which protects unborn children in Florida beyond six weeks of pregnancy. The Florida House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted 70-40 in favor of the bill and the Florida Senate passed it on April 3 in a 26-13 vote. 

The “Heartbeat Protection Act” will take effect 30 days after the Florida Supreme Court either holds that the right to privacy enshrined in Article I, Section 23 of the State Constitution does not include a right to abortion; upholds the 15-week abortion ban signed into law by DeSantis in April 2022; or if the Court overturns the state abortion case precedent in the In re T.W. decision.

Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief to the Florida Supreme Court on behalf of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Fiona Jackson Center for Pregnancy, and Issues4life Foundation, in defense of  Florida’s 15-week abortion ban since the Florida Constitution affirms “the right to enjoy and defend life” regardless of “race, religion, national origin, or physical disability.”   

In addition, Liberty Counsel Action filed an amicus brief to the Florida Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, et al., v. State of Florida, et al., requesting that the In re T.W. decision issued by an activist court in 1989 be overturned and the original intent of Article I, Section 23 be restored so as not to recognize a right to kill preborn children by abortion. Before the Florida Supreme Court is a 15-week abortion ban passed by the legislature in 2022. Like the 15-week abortion ban that went to the U.S. Supreme Court and resulted in the overturning of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Florida case could follow a similar result. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The Florida Supreme Court must not approve the language of this deceptive and deliberately confusing amendment which would authorize abortion for any reason at any time up to birth. This amendment would also impermissibly conflict with the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. These sponsors want to fool the voters into changing the Florida Constitution to kill babies for any reason, even up to birth. Pro-abortion groups want to establish unlimited human genocide of innocent children in Florida and this deceitful amendment must be rejected.” 

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