Florida Supreme Court upholds state’s 15-week abortion ban, but voters will soon have a say

FILE - Participants wave signs as they walk back to Orlando City Hall during the March for Abortion Access, Oct. 2, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. The Florida Supreme Court on Monday, April 1, 2024, upheld the state's ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which means a subsequently passed six-week ban can soon take effect. (Chasity Maynard/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for the state to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant, while also giving voters a chance to remove restrictions in November.

The court, which was reshaped by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, ruled 6-1 to uphold the state’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, meaning a ban on six weeks could soon take effect. But under a separate 4-3 ruling, the court allowed a ballot measure to go to voters that would enshrine abortion rights in Florida’s constitution.

The court’s decisions could be pivotal in the presidential race and congressional contests this year by driving abortion-rights supporters to the polls. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, voters in every state with an abortion-related ballot measure have favored the side backed by abortion rights supporters.

The 15-week ban, signed by DeSantis in 2022, has been enforced while it was challenged in court. The six-week ban, passed by the Legislature last year, was written so that it would not take effect until a month after the 2022 law was upheld.

The Florida justices said that when voters approved a privacy clause, they didn’t know it would affect abortion laws.

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