Abortion rights hang in the balance at state Supreme Court oral arguments
Image via Florida Phoneix, Michael Molina.

Florida Supreme Court -- Michael Moline FL Phoenix
A ruling in favor of the state's position would clear the way for banning the procedure before most women know they are pregnant.

The Florida Supreme Court is poised to make a crucial decision potentially affecting not only Florida residents’ abortion rights but also marking an entire swath of the country as a place where abortion is mostly off-limits.

Justices will hold oral arguments today on whether Florida’s existing 15-week abortion ban violates the privacy clause in the state constitution enacted by voters in 1980. And if the Supreme Court agrees with the state’s case, it will clear the way for new legislation further restricting abortion to go into effect 30 days after the court’s ruling.

That new law (SB 300) the Legislature passed earlier this year bans abortion before most people know they are pregnant — after six weeks of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is at risk, or the patient can produce proof of rape or incest. The case the court will hear today has kept that law from going into effect.

Florida is currently the only place from Texas to South Carolina and north to Tennessee where abortion is allowed at 15 weeks. Those states and all those between either ban it after six weeks or allow it only under special circumstances.

Previously, the high court had blocked another abortion law based on a privacy clause voters approved in 1980.

Attorney General Ashley Moody has asked the court to overturn the 1989 ruling, contending that it is as “egregiously wrong” as the Roe decision and that the privacy clause was never intended to include abortion.

“Far from a hidden thought whispered in the confines of the home, the effects of abortion ripple throughout society, from the women who endure it to the medical staff who perform it, to the unborn lives extinguished by it,” states the brief from Moody and her legal team.

But attorneys representing the abortion clinics and the physician challenging the law with the 15-week ban point out that voters in 2012 rejected a constitutional amendment proposed by the Legislature that would have wiped out the 1989 ruling.

“The state asks this court to override the will of the people and do with the stroke of a pen precisely what the people rejected at the ballot box,” states the brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.

All eyes will be on Justice Charles Canady. Some have called for him to recuse himself because his wife, Republican state Rep. Jennifer Canady, R-Lakeland, co-sponsored the six-week ban that would soon become Florida law after the ruling.

The Liberty Counsel, which bills itself as a religious civil liberties law firm, filed an amicus brief supporting the state’s case and noted Florida’s role in the Southeast region since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the court decisions that guaranteed abortion rights up to when a fetus can survive outside the womb — at about 24 weeks — throughout the country.

“Tragically, after … Roe (v. Wade) and Casey (v. Planned Parenthood) abortion decisions were overturned, Florida has become a sanctuary for abortion, said Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman, according to a prepared statement. “Now the Florida Supreme Court must establish this as a state that values unborn life according to the state Constitution.”

In the background, however, a coalition of groups have come together to form Floridians Protecting Freedom (FPF). It’s a political committee pressing for another constitutional amendment that would render the high court’s opinion moot if cleared to be on the ballot and approved.

If the petition garners enough signatures to get on the ballot and then the question wins the approval of 60% or more of voters, the state constitution would be amended to guarantee abortion rights as Floridians had for nearly 50 years before last June’s Supreme Court decision.

The group announced Wednesday it had gathered enough petition signatures to trigger a state Supreme Court review of the question.

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.

If it goes on the ballot, the referendum 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.”

Lauren Brenzel, FPF campaign director, said that Floridians, who polls show overwhelmingly support abortion rights, should take heart no matter the outcome of Friday’s oral arguments.

“Our campaign is poised to give voters the chance to reclaim their freedom and put a stop to politicians interfering in our personal medical decisions once and for all,” Brenzel said in a prepared statement.


Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

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 8, 2023 at 6:10 am

    Florida Supreme Court, Men and Women are usually “necessary “. For procreation. Make the law hold the MAN just as responsible as the woman!

  • Michael K

    September 8, 2023 at 7:34 am

    Why do some religious fundamentalists want to control women’s bodies and force them to give birth? Why do they think the have the right to impose their views on everyone else?

    My faith tradition affirms the rights of women to make their own, personal reproductive health decisions. Why do these self-professed “religious liberty” people think they can take away the liberty of others?

    • Rick Whitaker

      September 8, 2023 at 9:43 am

      faith to me means believing in something that may be a lie or truth, nobody really knows. the gop uses nothing but faith. they have faith that people will believe their lies.

  • Lex

    September 8, 2023 at 8:14 am

    This is an important state right and I think the people of the State of Florida will be able to come to a decision on this. It also is something that should be handled by the legislature, not judicial fiat. In these situations, at some point, we have the rights of two people at stake. A right to life should trump a right to convenience, but a right to life should not trump a right to life (so saving the life of the mother should take precedence). The legislature is where compromises are formed. It is far better for a legislature to decide the correct time because it will ultimately the will of the voters. The rules for murder are determined by the legislature, not the courts.

    • Michael K

      September 8, 2023 at 10:34 am

      I disagree. Put it to the voters directly, as they’ve done in Kansas and other states.

      Why are Republicans so afraid of that?

      • Rick Whitaker

        September 8, 2023 at 7:38 pm

        yeah you gop are definitely afraid of kansas type referendums. gop i dare you. too scared huh.

  • Rick Whitaker

    September 8, 2023 at 9:50 am

    i murder virus ‘ when i take a vaccine .saying the word murder out of context doesn’t help. gop governors murder prisoners when they facilitate the death penalty. if the gop truthfully spoke of their true intentions, not many working class people would vote for them.

  • Earl Pitts "Political Opinion Expert" American

    September 8, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    Good afternoon America,
    Whatever The Florida Supreme Court decides it will be totally irrelevant to the upcoming 2024 POTUS election. Most of the Dook 4 Brains Leftist posters here dont have a clue in regards to how America feels about the abortion issue. Which is why a man, such as myself, is so valuable in guiding everyone to American’s Real and True Political Opinions.
    Here is the truth America:
    Just think back to the photos of who showed up over the past 10 years to attend abortion rallys in favor of keeping abortions up to birth. You, being a Dook 4 Brains Leftist, wont recall and thats OK (due to the Dook in your Brains of course) so I will tell you who showed up. It was just a bunch of very old cotton-top Grannys who were the hippies of the 1960’s. They were about an 86.75% sum total of ALL those protesting.
    These Grannys were all dressed up in their tye dies with those saggy braless ta ta’s hanging down to belly button level, bell bottoms, and Earth Shoes (or those old lady birenkstocks).
    These Grannys are, one and all, female Boomer voters who were reliving their 1960’s protest years. The Boomer vote as you know is dying out and not relevant at all to the 2024 election.
    Very few younger protesters even bothered to show. Black representation was miniscule as well as suburban middle aged white folks.
    Most of middle aged and younger Americans have left abortion behind as a political issue which indicates they have little to no need to get an abortion.
    The left has the majority of Non-Granny aged Americans so juiced up on climate change that they are no way gonna allow a man to accidently inseminate them because they think there will not be a planet to raise kids left in a few years.
    So basically your abortion vote is non-existant.
    I, Earl Pitts American, recently became a certified “Political Opinion Expert” so when I’m telling you the abortion issue is politically non-existant you can put your trust in Earl.
    Also to drive the final nail into the abortion issue let me switch gears and drive you “Non-Believers Home”.
    The Hispanic Vote:
    Remember all the Hispanics Biden let in the Southern Border…well it was Millions. How many Hispanic’s do you think there are, on the planet, who do not belive abortion is a mortal sin with the punishment for committing being that they will burn in H€ll for eternity?
    How many did you say?
    Well you are wrong. All Hispanics are 100% opposed to abortion.
    I hope you knuckle-head Dook 4 Brains are reading and learning from the exquisit golden nuggetts of truth and wisdom which I am doing my best to pound into your Dook 4 Brains heads.
    Thank you Dook 4 Brains Lefty’s you are all better people when you are exposed to more and more Earl in your otherwise dull, dreary, sad lives.
    *Earls Free Bumper Sticker*

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