A state constitutional amendment that would protect abortion access in Florida has received enough signatures of support to appear on ballots in the November election, but a challenge by the state’s attorney general could still block it.

The measure would ban laws that “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.” Abortions are currently illegal after 15 weeks in Florida.

The measure had received 911,086 signatures as of midday Friday, nearly 20,000 more than the number required to go before voters, according to the state elections division.

Florida is among several states where reproductive rights groups have been gathering signatures to place similar referendums on the ballot in November, when the presidential contest will headline national elections.

Constitutional amendments in Florida must pass with at least 60% of the vote, a greater portion than any statewide abortion measure has yet won.

Abortion rights measures have prevailed everywhere they have gone to a popular vote, even conservative states, since the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 2022 to overturn its 1972 Roe v. Wade ruling and eliminate a nationwide right to end pregnancies.

In last November’s local elections, voters approved a constitutional amendment enshrining abortion rights in Ohio, a state that voted for Republican Donald Trump by a margin of 8 percentage points in the 2020 election.

Although the Florida abortion rights amendment now has the signatures to go on the ballot this November, the state’s conservative Supreme Court could stop it by ruling in favor of state Attorney General Ashley Moody, who challenged the language in the proposed amendment as overly broad and open-ended.

A legal brief that Moody filed in October accuses the measure’s backers of “eviscerating” government interference in abortions, producing “the near-equivalent of abortion on demand in the State of Florida.”

The case is scheduled for oral argument on Feb. 7, according to court records. (Reporting by Julia Harte; Editing by Leslie Adler)

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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