Abortion rights coalition crosses petition threshold for 2024 ballot question

The proposed constitutional amendment must still survive a state Supreme Court challenge by Attorney General Ashley Moody.

Groups working together to put abortion rights on the 2024 ballot announced that they have more than enough petition signatures to do so — and the Florida Division of Elections website confirms it.

Election officials verified 911,148 signatures, nearly 20,000 more than is needed to qualify for a statewide referendum. The coalition, Floridians Protecting Freedom, said it expects to receive official word on whether a question to codify abortion rights in the Florida Constitution will make it onto the ballot later this year.

“Most initiative campaigns never make it this far,” the coalition’s campaign director, Lauren Brenzel, said in a statement. “The ones that do usually spend far more or take much longer to qualify, which is why we’re so confident that voters will approve our amendment once they’re given a chance to vote.”

The Friday milestone caps an eight-month effort to safeguard abortion access in the Sunshine State after consecutive Legislative Sessions in which Republican state lawmakers have reduced the time frame within which women can terminate pregnancies.

Last year, the GOP-dominated Legislature approved a measure banning most abortions after six weeks of gestation. That limit is on hold, pending a Florida Supreme Court ruling over a ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy passed in Florida in 2022.

Several states have passed legislation to restrict or ensure abortion access since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, effectively deferring most reproductive rights regulation to state governments.

In Florida, Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody has asked the state Supreme Court to disqualify the amendment question from the ballot, arguing its summary language would mislead voters.

The ballot proposal in Florida, if approved by 60% of voters, would codify abortion protections “before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health.” Moody called the language “one of the worst I have seen” and said voters could interpret “viability” as anywhere between 12 and 15 weeks.

Oral arguments over the matter are scheduled for Feb. 7.

While there is no universal consensus on the matter, clinicians in the context of abortion generally place “viability” — when a fetus, if delivered, can survive outside the womb — at 24 weeks of pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

If the Florida Supreme Court approves the language — an uncertain outcome, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed five of the seven Justices — it could boost Democratic voter turnout. It did in Ohio, where voters this past November enshrined abortion access through similar ballot language.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, who filed legislation in September to prevent women and girls from being prosecuted for ending their pregnancies after six weeks of gestation, applauded the Floridians Protecting Freedom announcement in a Friday statement.

She said the importance of protecting women’s bodily autonomy transcends partisan lines.

“Signatures came from everyone and everywhere, proving once again this is not a Republican or Democratic issue — it’s about freedom, healthcare, and safety,” she said. “No woman and no doctor should fear imprisonment over abortion care. No woman or mother should face death because she can’t get proper care. That’s what this fight is about, and that’s why we’ll win.”

Floridians Protecting Freedom groups include ACLU Florida, Florida Rising, Planned Parenthood, Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida, Florida Women’s Freedom Coalition, United Healthcare Workers East Florida and more than 200 local, statewide and national organizations.

The ballot language reads: “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 healthcare provider. This amendment does not change the Legislature’s constitutional authority to require notification to a parent or guardian before a minor has an abortion.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Let the people vote!

    January 5, 2024 at 4:29 pm

    More anti-democratic behavior from the usual suspects.

  • Dont Say FLA

    January 5, 2024 at 5:02 pm

    “Leave it to the states, not to the states’ voters,” says today’s moody AF G0P.

    Go away Assley. Maybe you should find another losing sports team to whine about.

    Were you really happy with whatever bowl the Gators got, if they even got one?

    Whatever happened with the Gators, I feel sure it’s definitely a crime that you’d better investigate and fix for all Floridians!

  • Michael K

    January 5, 2024 at 5:20 pm

    Yes. Congratulations on a job well done.

    I dread to see what the GOP courts, governor, and legislators do to thwart and ignore the will of the people. Again.

  • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Advisor" American

    January 5, 2024 at 5:30 pm

    Abortion is no longer a political football. You Boomers must think its still 1969 the Summer of Love.
    Dook 4 Brains Leftys should try to find a real political advisor to keep themselves more relevant and less stupid.
    Sorry Dook 4 Brains but I, Earl Pitts American, am already committed to Ron and Casey’s next 8 years in the White House.
    Otherwise I could help you if the money was right.
    Thank you Dook 4 Brains Leftys,
    Earl Pitts American

  • Julia

    January 5, 2024 at 6:56 pm

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  • Earl's Long Suffering But Heavily Medicated Wife

    January 5, 2024 at 6:58 pm

    Sorry everyone.
    C’mon Earl, time for medicine then bed.

  • Jojo

    January 6, 2024 at 8:21 am

    Ashley Moody- I read the language in the amendment and it’s crystal clear what it means. So exactly how dumb do you think voters are?

    • Dont Say FLA

      January 6, 2024 at 12:29 pm

      Ashley just knows that’s what the G0P does when they write language to appear the ballot. They try and trick the ignorant voter by writing things to sound appealing. A Constitutional amendment protect rights sounds appealing, so Ashley, based on her own experience in the G0P, assumes the language is misleading.

  • Dancing Outlaw

    January 6, 2024 at 1:16 pm

    As Florida’s AG, the lawsuit brought by Ashley Moody should be about wording the proposed amendment clearly on the ballot, not banning the proposed amendment from the ballot based on its wording.

    Given Moody’s lack of ideas regarding improvements to the wording, we can all see how Moody has no real legal case to make,

    Moody is just throwing a hissy fit with this case:
    “Wah, I’m the AG-OP. Listen to Meeeee, Waaaaah”

Comments are closed.


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