Florida Supreme Court allows 6-week abortion ban to take effect, but voters will have the final say

The Supreme Court of the State ruled on Monday that an amendment to the constitution that would enshrine the right to abortion in the state’s constitution could appear on the November ballot.

The Florida Supreme Court issued two significant decisions on Monday. It upheld the 15-week abortion ban in the state and allowed a proposed constitutional amendment to include abortion protections into the state constitution. This will appear on the ballot in November.

The conservative-leaning decision of the court on the 15-week-ban also means that the governor’s six-week-abortion ban with exceptions for incest, rape and life, will come into effect. Ron DeSantis’s law from last year, which was signed by him, will come into effect.

The bench’s decision to allow the constitutional change to appear on this fall’s ballot means that voters will be able to remove these restrictions in only seven months.


Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade, Republicans have taken multiple steps to limit abortion access.

DeSantis signed in 2022 a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature. The law was immediately challenged.

In April 2023, weeks before he announced that he would run for president, he issued a six-week ban — even though many women are not aware they’re expecting — which was immediately challenged.

The state Supreme Court, in reviewing the initial challenge against the 15-week prohibition, had stated that the six-week suspension would be blocked until the court ruled on 15-week proposal.

The majority of the justices in the court wrote, “Consistently with longstanding principles judicial deference towards legislative enactments we conclude that there is no basis for invalidating” the 15-week law under the Privacy clause.

The court added that Planned Parenthood (the plaintiff) “cannot overcome a presumption that the 15-weeks ban is unconstitutional and is unable beyond a reasonable question to prove that it is.”

The justices concluded that the “six week ban” would take effect within thirty days.

Moreover, the Florida voters will be able to decide on whether the six-week suspension should continue.

The justices, in allowing the proposed ballot measure to appear in November embraced a simple interpretation of their legal responsibility in approving measures on the ballot: ensuring that the proposed language was not confusing, unclear, or misleading, and that it did not cover more than one topic.

The justices stated in their opinion that they “approve the proposed amendment to be placed on the ballot”.

The measure was not removed from the ballot because of philosophical differences between the opponents and the sponsors.

The text of the proposed amendement clearly states that the amendment’s main goal and purpose is to limit the government’s interference in abortion. The summary’s language makes it clear that the proposed amendment has a broad scope. “To deny this is to flee from reality.”

Reproductive rights groups slammed both the ban decision and the ballot measure decision, while also highlighting the fact that the two rulings are in stark contrast. This raises the stakes for the November elections.

Laura Goodhue, Executive Director of Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood affiliates said in a press release that she was “thrilled” the Court had let voters decide on the fate of access to abortion in Florida. She added that “this comes at the time when they allowed a six-week ban to take effect, making this campaign more important than ever.”

Jessica Mackler, president of EMILYs List – a national Democratic organization that supports women who support abortion rights and are running for public office – said in a press release: “The stakes have never been greater for Florida’s reproductive freedom. This Florida Supreme Court ruling will result in a nearly total abortion ban that is set to take effect within 30 days. Essential health care for millions of people will no longer be available. Floridians can fight back and oppose this Republican law which strips them of their body autonomy, just as voters did in all other abortion ballot initiatives across the nation.”

In contrast, groups that oppose abortion rights celebrated the decision on the ban. They slammed ballot measures and noted the contradictory decisions raised the stakes for the November elections.

DeSantis’ spokesperson Jeremy Redfern stated that the governor agrees with the dissenting view and that the measure is “misleading and will confuse voters.”

Florida Voice for the Unborn’s Executive Director Andrew Shirvell stated that his group is “profoundly dissatisfied” with the Florida Supreme Court for allowing the measure to proceed. He also called the decision to allow the six-week prohibition to stand as a “silver line in an otherwise dark time for Florida’s children who are unborn.”

The decision made on Monday on the proposed amendment was the last major hurdle in the red-leaning states in order for the measure appear on the ballot in this fall.

Florida law requires that the measure receive 60% support from voters in November, not just a simple majority.

The number of signatures required by the state to place the measure on the ballot for general elections had been exceeded by reproductive rights groups. State officials have announced that the measure will be called “Amendment 4.”

Florida law requires that the state Supreme Court review any proposed language for a citizen-initiated constitution amendment before the proposal can be formally advanced.

The amendment proposed would prohibit restrictions on abortion prior to fetal viability (which is considered to be around the 24th week in pregnancy). This would nullify the six-week restriction. The ban would be extended to include “the patient’s health as determined by their healthcare provider” after that point.

The decision to allow the measure to be introduced in November may also have political implications: Allowing the measure’s introduction in November to increase the turnout of Democrats in Florida, as well independents and Republicans that strongly support reproductive rights. This could help Democrats in Florida, especially at the lower levels of the ballot. The state is likely to have close races this year for the U.S. Senate and presidential elections.

In a memo issued moments after the rulings, the re-election bid of President Joe Biden said that it believes the state is winnable mainly because abortion rights have been such an important issue for Democrats.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez of Biden’s campaign said that “abortion rights will be a major issue in Florida during this election cycle.”