Petition to put abortion on 2024 Florida ballot tops $1.94M

The political committee behind a Florida constitutional amendment aimed at limiting government interference in abortion rights collected nearly $1.942 million in June, according to a newly filed finance report with the Florida Department of State's Division of Elections

As of June 30, Floridians Protecting Freedom had collected about $4.719 million since being formed in April. It had spent almost $4.59 million, including about $2.52 million in June. Most of the June spending went to petition-gathering efforts, according to the report posted on the state Division of Elections website. Large donors in June included Planned Parenthood organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. 

The initiative was launched after Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature this spring approved a bill that seeks to prevent abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The Florida House voted 70-40 to pass the legislation which also was approved by the Florida Senate 26-13. 

RELATED: Florida abortion law fight goes to Florida Supreme Court

The six-week limit, however, is contingent on the outcome of a pending Florida Supreme Court case that would uphold the state's current 15-week ban and centers on whether a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution protects abortion rights. The conservative-leaning court said it will hear arguments on Sept. 8, 2023. 

The amendment would require that "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." Viability is generally considered to be between 23 and 24 weeks of gestational age, but the initiative does not spell out a specific timeframe.

"Fetal viability depends on many complex factors, of which gestational age is only one," the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states on its website. "While gestational age may be helpful in predicting the possible chance that the fetus would survive at time of delivery, many other factors also influence viability, such as sex, genetics, weight, circumstances around delivery, and availability of a neonatal intensivist health care professional."

To get the proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2024 ballot, Floridians Protecting Freedom will need to submit at least 891,523 valid petition signatures to the state by Feb. 1. If the measure reaches the ballot, it would need support from at least 60 percent of voters.