Abortion rights advocates speak out after oral arguments at the Florida Supreme Court on abortion bans and the state’s privacy clause. Sept. 8, 2023. Credit: Mitch Perry
The future of abortion in Florida remains in limbo because of a pending ruling from the Florida Supreme Court, but lawmakers — both Republicans and Democrats — have been filing proposals for the 2024 legislative session, creating more potential outcomes for the landscape of abortion.
So far, state lawmakers have filed three proposals dealing with abortion directly, and most of them come from Democrats.
- SB 34 and HB 111 were filed in mid-September and early October. Democratic Senate leader Lauren Book and Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, would clarify that penalties related to an illegal abortion would not apply to the person getting the procedure.
- HB 93 was filed in early October. Republican Rep. Fabian Basabe of Miami-Dade proposed a 12-week abortion ban.
Book also filed two proposals last week, SB 254 and SB 256, which would prohibit protests within 150 feet of a healthcare facility and place stricter regulations for anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, respectively. Rep. Kelly Skidmore, a Democrat representing part of Palm Beach County, plans to file the House counterpart of SB 256, according to a press release.
Lawmakers will consider those proposals during the next legislative session starting on Jan. 9, 2024.
The Florida Supreme Court’s pending ruling on the 15-week ban has so far hindered a group of state officials from predicting the economic impact of an abortion-rights ballot initiative. But the Floridians Protecting Freedom initiative also needs the approval of the Florida Supreme Court to make it to the ballot next November, meaning that the uncertainty could continue until the 2024 election at least.
Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody is already trying to keep the initiative off the ballot.
Four people in charge of estimating the financial impact of the abortion-rights ballot initiative are scheduled to meet Wednesday, Nov. 1. (The group earlier met on Oct. 19.) They won’t be able to make a formal decision until after they meet for the last time on Nov. 16. Still, they agreed during their first meeting that the abortion landscape in Florida is too complicated to describe in the 150-word summary they have to write. That summary would need to appear on the ballot.
Instead, the group will focus on a report they have to publish, which would include information presented by proponents and opponents of the initiative and state agencies.
During that Oct. 19 meeting, an official from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration presented data about the 51 abortion clinics in the state. In the past decade, 23 abortion clinics have closed. The agency also approved licenses for 11 clinics during that timeframe.
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