Florida six-week abortion ban will soon become law, but voters will consider a constitutional amendment this fall

By Carlos Suarez, Denise Royal and Jack Forrest

(CNN) — The Florida Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for the state’s six-week abortion ban to take effect, while allowing Floridians to decide in the fall whether to enshrine abortion protections in the state’s constitution.

By upholding Florida’s current 15-week ban on abortion, the state Supreme Court triggered a six-week abortion ban approved by Florida lawmakers last year. The law will take effect within 30 days. But in a separate ruling, the court approved the wording of a proposed state constitutional amendment that would protect the right to an abortion in Florida, clearing it to go on the ballot as Amendment 4 this November when it could potentially undo both bans. Constitutional amendments in Florida need the support of at least 60% of voters to be approved.

Monday’s rulings will make Florida one of the most restrictive states in the country to obtain an abortion and set up a presidential-year fight over reproductive rights in a longtime swing state that has trended Republican in recent elections.

With the measure poised to appear on the state’s ballot, Florida will join several other states, including Michigan and Ohio, where voters have weighed in directly on reproductive rights since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The initiative could also increase voter turnout in what is expected to be a close rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

In January, Floridians Protecting Freedom, the coalition behind the ballot initiative, gathered just under a million signatures of registered voters to qualify for Florida Supreme Court review. Justices had to decide if the amendment’s language was clear, unambiguous and would not confuse voters. The court also had to decide if the language on the ballot deals with a single subject. Both legal requirements had to be met for the amendment to appear on the ballot.

The wording of the proposed amendment that will appear on the ballot 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.”

Separately Monday, the Florida Supreme Court also approved language for a fall ballot measure on recreational marijuana. Amendment 3 would authorize the use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older and allow people to possess up to three ounces of marijuana. In 2016, Florida voters legalized medical marijuana through a constitutional amendment.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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