Abortion rights referendum organizers hit milestone that triggers state high court review

Gynecology in the clinic gynecology room, interior of the genico
A newly passed law awaiting a state Supreme Court ruling would ban abortion before most women know they are pregnant.

An abortion rights group has reached a crucial milestone in its effort to ask Floridians about enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution on next year’s ballot.

Floridians Protecting Freedom (FPF), the committee working to put abortion access on the ballot in 2024, has more than enough petitions verified with the state of Florida to qualify for Supreme Court review. One-third of the 891,523 required validated signatures that need to be validated by Feb. 1 — 297,799 signatures — have been validated, the official state tracker shows.

The state high court’s review of the question is triggered when 25% of the required signatures have been validated.

“Florida has never seen a citizen initiative with the momentum and grassroots support of our amendment to limit government interference in personal medical decisions,” said Moné Holder, an FPF Executive Committee member.

The group has hundreds of thousands more signatures in the pipeline to be validated, the group announced last month.

The referendum, if it goes on the ballot, would ask voters to agree that “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 health care provider.”

Proponents say it would restore the right to an abortion in Florida to where it was until the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned the landmark ruling, Roe v. Wade. For nearly 50 years, that ruling allowed women to end pregnancies up to 24 weeks of gestation. The new Dobbs decision moved regulation of the procedure to state jurisdiction.

The Florida Legislature passed a 15-week ban in 2022, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Then, during last Session, passed a six-week ban on the procedure, but kept in some exceptions.

Right now, the 15-week ban is under state Supreme Court review as Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and a handful of abortion providers sued to stop the law, arguing that the 2022 measure violates the right to privacy in the state constitution.

Arguments on the issue are scheduled to come before the state Supreme Court Friday. If the conservative-leaning court upholds the original 15-week ban, the new six-week ban will go into effect.

“The (Friday) oral arguments over Florida’s current 15-week ban have only served as another reminder of the threat abortion bans pose to our freedoms,” Holder said.

Approval of a ballot referendum would render the Supreme Court ruling moot.

Florida law has some of the highest bars to clear to change the state constitution. To get on the ballot, 8% of voters who cast ballots in 2020 have to sign a petition and then 60% of voters must approve the question. This summer, Ohio voters rejected raising the required approval threshold to match Florida’s in anticipation of considering an abortion rights amendment there.

FPF started last April, leading the charge soon after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the “Heartbeat Protection Act” (SB 300) which bans the procedure before most women know they are pregnant.

The ban galvanized a partnership of women’s groups, unions, Planned Parenthood organizations in Florida and the ACLU of Florida, which has raised $4.7 million for the signature-collecting effort. The committee has spent nearly $4.6 million of that, according to state campaign filings.

Polls show most Americans believe that abortion should be legal.

“Every time abortion access has been on the ballot since Roe v. Wade was overturned, voters have spoken out in support of access and keeping the government out of our private lives,” said Lauren Brenzel, FPF’s Campaign Director. “Our amendment will qualify for the ballot and, come next November, Floridians will add their voices to the chorus of support across the country for patients having control of their own lives, bodies and futures.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Sonja Fitch

    September 7, 2023 at 4:44 am

    What about the man and his sperm? When used is it responsible for reproduction? OF COURSE IT IS!

  • Michael K

    September 7, 2023 at 8:18 am

    Watch out. Republicans will do anything to stop this from appearing on the ballot. Why? Their overreach is catching up with them, and they fear voter backlash.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn