Liberty Counsel has filed a reply brief on behalf of Florida Voters Against Extremism (FLVAE) urging the Florida Supreme Court to not approve the wording of a proposed amendment that would codify unrestricted abortion as a right in the state’s Constitution. In the reply brief, Liberty Counsel argues that the initiative is misleading and deceptive and violates the single subject rule. In the brief, Liberty Counsel states the sponsor completely sidesteps these legal issues and fails to provide a meaningful rebuttal.
The proposed amendment, “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion,” would create a new section in the Florida Constitution “limiting government interference with abortion.” The full text of the accompanying ballot summary states: “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.”
However, this initiative has serious deficiencies and falls short of the requirements under Florida law to be placed on the ballot for voters.
The proposed amendment misleads voters and hides the true purpose behind the amendment and its effect, which is to enshrine a right of abortion in Florida for any reason, at any stage of the pregnancy. The effect of the proposed amendment would prevent the State of Florida from regulating all abortions that a vague and undefined “healthcare provider” may deem “necessary” to protect the woman’s “health.” The amendment leaves the terms “necessary” or “health” purposefully undefined and vague, concealing that the true purpose is to confuse Florida voters and create an unrestricted right to abortion at all stages of pregnancy up to birth. For example, if adopted, the proposed amendment would authorize, as a matter of state law, activities that would constitute violations of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. This conflict alone with the federal law disqualifies the proposed amendment.
The proposed amendment also violates the Florida Constitution’s single-subject requirement by addressing multiple subjects, including pre-viability abortions and protection of women’s health, in the same proposal. Those are distinct issues that cannot permissibly be put into a single ballot initiative.
In addition, the amendment would substantially alter the function of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Florida government. Currently, the legislative branch is authorized to “prohibit” abortion through legislation; the executive is authorized to “penalize” citizens who violate abortion laws; and the judicial branch is authorized to “delay” or “restrict” any illegal or unconstitutional conduct. Lumping functional alterations to each branch of government in one amendment also violates the single-subject requirement.
The proposed amendment is sponsored by Floridians Protecting Freedom, Inc., a political committee supported by the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other groups that support the termination of preborn humans through unrestricted abortion on demand. Even the name, Floridians Protecting Freedom, is deceptive when their objective is to “protect Floridians’ access to abortion as reproductive health care.”
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The Florida Supreme Court must not approve the language of this deceptive and deliberately confusing amendment. If passed, this abortion amendment would authorize abortion for any reason at any time up to birth. This amendment would also impermissibly conflict with the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. These sponsors want to fool the voters into changing the Florida Constitution to kill babies for any reason, even up to birth. This deceitful amendment must be rejected.”