Florida attorney general, against criticism, seeks to keep abortion rights amendment off 2024 ballot

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody speaks at a news conference, Jan. 26, 2023, in Miami. Moody is asking the state Supreme Court to keep a proposed abortion rights amendment off the ballot, saying the “war” proponents are waging to protect the procedure is a “ticking time bomb” to expand rights again in future years. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, file)TALLAHASSEE, Fla.

But proponents of the proposed amendment said Attorney General Ashley Moody is playing politics and that her arguments fall legally short given what the call the clear and precise language of the proposed measure.

A group called Floridians Protecting Freedom has gathered nearly 500,000 of the 891,523 voter signatures needed ahead of a Feb. 1 deadline for signatures to put the proposal on the 2024 ballot. The state Supreme Court would be tasked with ensuring the ballot language isn’t misleading and applies to a single subject if it goes before voters. headtopics.com

The proposed amendment would allow abortions to remain legal until the fetus is viable. But Moody argued that abortion rights proponents and opponents have differing interpretations as to what viability means. Those differences along with the failure to define “health” and “health-care provider,” she said, are enough to deceive voters and potentially open a box of legal questions in the future.

She said while prior court decisions have used viability as a term meaning whether the fetus can survive outside the womb, “others will understand ‘viability’ in the more traditional clinical sense — as referring to a pregnancy that, but for an abortion or other misfortune, will result in the child’s live birth.”“The proposed amendment is very clear and precise,” Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani said in a news release. headtopics.com

Moody also argued that language that allows abortions after the point of viability to protect the health of the mother do not distinguish between physical and mental health. She also said voters might assume a health-care provider is a doctor, but the amendment doesn’t explicitly say so.