Tuesday, April 16

Pro-life advocates sound alarm on ‘extreme’ Florida abortion vote that Dems hope could swing general election

The Florida Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a ballot measure enshrining abortion into the state’s constitution can be voted on in November which prominent pro-life advocates tell Fox News Digital will involve a “misleading” playbook that is too “extreme” for Florida voters.

While Monday’s ruling upheld a 15-week abortion ban signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and cleared the way for the imminent enforcement of a 6-week ban, which Democrats have already attacked as “MAGA extremism”, it also approved a ballot measure in November allowing Florida voters to decide whether to enshrine abortion access into the state constitution.

The Florida ruling comes shortly after voters in Ohio, where Trump won by 8 points in 2020, overwhelmingly voted in favor of a constitutional amendment allowing abortion. Several pro-life advocates spoke to Fox News Digital about what the post-Roe v. Wade battle will look like in Florida.

“The abortion businesses pushing this extreme amendment know the heartbeat law is supported by the majority of Floridians and second- and third-trimester abortion is wildly unpopular,” Katie Glenn Daniel, Tampa lawyer and SBA Pro-Life America State Policy Director, told Fox News Digital. 

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“That’s why they will use tens of millions of dollars like they did in Ohio to use fear and deception because they know their extreme policy is wildly unpopular. Despite the clear fact that emergency care continues to be available to pregnant women in all 50 states, they will rely on the lie women won’t receive medical care and sow confusion that puts women’s lives in danger.”

Daniel explained that in order to avoid a similar result as Ohio, prominent Floridians must persuasively articulate what the abortion measure means for residents.

“Gov. Ron DeSantis must be at the forefront of protecting Florida from Big Abortion’s attempt to eliminate the rights of unborn children, parents, women, and girls,” Daniel said. “Gov. DeSantis signed protections for babies who feel pain and have a heartbeat into law and now he must lead in defending those protections.”

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned and the issue was given back to the states, Republicans have suffered several defeats at the ballot box that many pundits attribute to poor messaging on abortion from the GOP but some pro-life advocates, including Caitlin Connors, southern regional director for SBA Pro-Life America, have made the case that Democrats are not where the majority of Americans are on abortion. 

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“The media narrative that late-term abortion is a political winner is wrong. Since Dobbs we’ve seen strong pro-life candidates like Senator Rubio stand strong for life and win,” Connors told Fox News Digital. 

“The Democrats know their candidates suffer when they get on a debate stage and are confronted directly on the extreme position to legalize 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions, so they are trying to use deceptive amendments to cover their tracks. Their extreme position is not a winner with the American people and Republicans must continue to expose the Democrat position for voters across America.”

Prominent Democrats have already begun promoting the idea that a wave of turnout for the abortion measure will not only constitutionally override the state’s current abortion bans but could also benefit President Biden’s effort to carry Florida in November which would be a crushing blow to former President Trump’s campaign. 

More and more people are realizing how wrong these bans are and you’ve seen it across the country, whenever there have been ballot initiatives, no matter how red the state is, the people rise up for women’s reproductive freedom here,” North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper told reporters during a Biden-Harris campaign conference call on Wednesday. 

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“So the more Republicans do here, the worse it’s going to get for them at the ballot box, as it should, because this is an issue that people care about all across the country.”

I think the empirical evidence suggests that we have a good shot for this,” Florida Democratic State Rep. Fentrice Driskell said on the call. “And it’s tough to ignore the electoral implications. The last time that a Democratic presidential candidate won Florida was when there was an anti-abortion measure on the ballot. So this is something that Floridians pay attention to. That was President Barack Obama in 2012. So I am optimistic that it will pass the finish line in November.”

Republicans outnumber Democrats in Florida by a wide margin and a recent Politico analysis suggested that recent abortion ballot measures did not significantly boost Democrat turnout. Still, Biden campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez said on the zoom call, “We definitely see Florida in play.”

After the Ohio defeat, pro-life groups assessed that part of the reason for the result was being massively outspent and pointed to what they said was misleading language in the abortion amendment, two things that they say must be addressed in Florida. 

“Our campaign will ensure that Florida voters won’t be fooled by the misleading amendment language and ensure that the abortion industry and out of state abortion extremists who have spent nearly $20 million on their campaign so far won’t succeed in their efforts to enact one of the most extreme abortion amendment proposals in America,” Sara Johnson, grassroots director of Florida Voters Against Extremism, told Fox News Digital. 

“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,” the ballot measure, known as Amendment 4, states. “This amendment does not change the Legislature’s constitutional authority to require notification to a parent or guardian before a minor has an abortion.”

Florida Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody, in an amicus brief that was denied by the court, argued the wording is misleading for several reasons including not defining the term “viability.” 

“The ballot summary here is part of a … design to lay ticking time bombs that will enable abortion proponents later to argue that the amendment has a much broader meaning than voters would ever have thought,” Moody argued in a previous brief.

“The ballot language incorrectly implies that the amendment will not impact parental rights when their children seek abortions. Currently, Florida requires parental consent, with limited exceptions, before a physician can perform an abortion on a minor,” SBA Pro-Life America argued in a brief. 

“If the proposed amendment passes, this statute will likely be another casualty. The loss of parental consent is obscured in the ballot language, which highlights that the proposed amendment will not change the constitutional right to parental notification, leading voters to assume that the right to parental consent will be similarly untouched.”

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“Not only will this measure bring dangerous late-term abortions back to Florida, but it will allow girls who aren’t old enough to get their ears pierced on their own get an abortion without a parent’s okay,” SBA added in a press release

“Those girls and the women who have abortions will be put at risk when this measure eliminates every abortion health regulation on the books. In a state where 25% of abortion centers failed inspections it’s no surprise they want to be completely unregulated to increase their profits at the expense of women, girls, and babies.”

Stephen Billy, VP of State Affairs for SBA Pro-Life America, told Fox News Digital that major pro-abortion groups will be pumping money into the state. 

“Planned parenthood and other abortion businesses, with support from the ACLU, are the major backers of this initiative,” Billy said. “And with good reason—they stand to benefit most if Florida becomes a late-term abortion destination and the state cannot enforce basic health and safety guidelines or even inspect their facilities. One thing is certain, their message won’t explain how extreme this amendment is and won’t focus on the ACLU’s new lawsuit in Ohio where they’re challenging whether an informed consent law allowed under Roe is permitted after the amendment.”

Pro-abortion groups have pointed out that abortion restrictions have been implemented across the entire deep south since Roe’s reversal and suggested the Florida vote will be a rallying cry against those nationwide efforts.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said in a statement her organization had seen the negative impact from abortion bans on patients in Florida. “Today’s decision paves the way for Florida voters to stop these ridiculous abortion bans once and for all,” she said.

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

“With abortion on the ballot, Republicans in Florida have the opportunity to be resoundingly clear on where they stand on the issue of abortion and the value of all life,” Florida GOP State Sen. Erin Grall told Fox News Digital. 

“As an issue where lives all across Florida will be deeply and dramatically affected if this were to pass, I know Republicans will be emphasizing their support of pro-life protections and communicating on this important issue with compassion, which is in contrast with the deeply unpopular Democrat agenda for unlimited abortion in Florida.”

Reuters contributed to this report

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