Dems Rally After Controversial State Supreme Court Rulings

( – Florida is in a battle over abortion. Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a 6-week abortion ban last year. His state already had a 15-week ban in place. Two cases went before the state Supreme Court recently, and Democrats are now rallying around the issue.

State Supreme Court Rulings

Florida was once an outlier on abortion in the South. Despite the state’s changing demographics, it had one of the least restrictive laws in the southeast. The result of the lax restrictions meant it had an abortion rate that was almost twice the national average.

In the average year, approximately 80,000 women have abortions in the state. That accounts for 1 in 12 abortions in the US. However, that will now change after the state Supreme Court upheld the state’s 15-week abortion ban. The ruling will now allow a 6-week ban to take effect on May 1.

The case centered around whether the state’s Constitution enshrined abortion access. Plaintiffs argued the 15-week ban, which went into effect in 2022, was not constitutional. The courts long agreed that a right-to-privacy provision added to the Constitution in 1980 was intended to prevent abortion restrictions in the state.

The justices disagreed and allowed the law to remain in place. Justice Jamie Grosshans wrote the opinion and stated, “We conclude there is no basis under the Privacy Clause to invalidate the statute.”

The decision triggered the 6-week ban, which was written to only go into effect if the high court allowed the less restrictive ban to remain. The 6-week ban will all but outlaw abortion in the state because most women don’t know they are pregnant until after that point. It also means women in the South have almost nowhere in the region to go to have the procedure.

In a separate ruling, the high court also determined voters have the right to decide whether to enshrine abortion access in the Constitution.

Democrats Rally

There’s now a new energy in the state. Democrats and advocates for reproductive freedom are campaigning to pass a ballot initiative that will enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution. In Florida, the measure will have to get 60% to pass.

The proposed amendment states, “no law shall prohibit, penalize, delay or restrict abortion before viability” or when a healthcare provider deems the procedure necessary to protect a woman’s health. The only exception it allows is that parents must be notified if their minor child wants an abortion. That is already enshrined in the constitution.

Democrats have a history of success when it comes to ballot initiatives. Voters in Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio, all conservative states, enshrined abortion rights through ballot measures. Democrats are now looking to use the issue to flip the state of Florida.

Republican pollster Neil Newhouse told The Associated Press, “This puts Florida in play.”

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