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Florida Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Abortion Initiative

Many Florida voters are quite unhappy with Florida's new law banning abortions after 6 weeks. So what did they do? They circulated a petition to enshrine the right to an abortion in the state Constitution. It would bar restrictions on abortion before fetal viability and even allow abortions after that in some cases. It met all the requirements for a ballot initiative, so what did the Republican AG, Ashley Moody, do? She filed a lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court to remove the initiative. She said the initiative would "hoodwink" the voters due to different opinions on the definition of fetal viability.

Yesterday, both sides gave their oral arguments before the Court, where all the members are Republican appointees. Five of them were appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). A number of the justices felt that the language in the initiative and the summary offered to voters is not clear and doesn't make it obvious that the purpose of the initiative is to protect abortion rights. Others said that the legal ramifications were not spelled out clearly. One point that came up several times is that there is no hard number in there for fetal viability, so the initiative is ambiguous because experts disagree on when a fetus is viable. It might have been better if the initiative had simply stated all abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy are legal, but it didn't. The Court gave no indication of when it might make its ruling. (V)

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