Florida Supreme Court hands down two key abortion decisions

April 1, 2024

The Florida Supreme Court on Monday upheld the state’s 15-week abortion ban, yet also approved a ballot measure that would protect abortion access if voters pass it in November. 

Facing an April 1 deadline to rule on the ballot measure, the court sided with Floridians Protecting Freedom, a coalition of abortion rights groups sponsoring the initiative. By greenlighting the measure, the court dealt a serious blow to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and GOP Attorney General Ashley Moody, who opposed it. 

But in a separate case, the court also upheld the current ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The majority of the justices said the state’s right to privacy does not include abortion.

By law, that means a six-week ban will be triggered within 30 days. 

If the ballot initiative passes, it would roll back the state’s abortion ban to the point of viability, about 24 weeks, when the fetus can survive outside the womb.  

The measure needs to reach a 60 percent threshold to be approved.

The court rejected arguments from the state and anti-abortion groups that the measure was about more than one subject, and that the summary was confusing to voters.  

“That the proposed amendment’s principal goal and chief purpose is to limit government interference with abortion is plainly stated in terms that clearly and unambiguously reflect the text of the proposed amendment. And the broad sweep of this proposed amendment is obvious in the language of the summary,” the justices wrote in the majority opinion. “Denying this requires a flight from reality.”