What's next for Florida with abortion protections on the 2024 ballot?

'We're clear-eyed about how hard it will be to win Florida,' Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden-Harris campaign manager, says
Posted at 5:52 PM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 17:52:45-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — What now? That's the big question on the minds of Floridians as they prepare for one of the most restrictive abortion bans in America to take effect next month — and the chance to undo it all come November.

Following Monday's ruling from the state’s supreme court, Florida starts a six-week ban in May. There are exceptions for rape, incest, and health — but the ban is before many know they're pregnant.

Officials with Florida’s Planned Parenthood Affiliates said Tuesday they're getting ready for the change. They say facilities are expanding hours, securing rapid blood tests, contraceptives, and more.

"We're going to be working on navigation, you know, helping people if they have to get out of state," Laura Goodhue, the director of Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. "We'll continue to do that, as we have been doing with the 15-week ban, which has already been heartbreaking."

Meanwhile, abortion advocates now seek to overturn the law with Amendment 4 this November. It returns Florida to about 24 weeks, just before viability. The statewide campaign needs 60% support to make it happen.

"Florida voters have a history of passing really sensible policy at 60%. Things like the $15 minimum wage, things like returning the right to vote to formerly incarcerated individuals," Lauren Brenzel, Yes on Four campaign director, said. "We feel solid about that 60%."

As they work, state and national anti-abortion organizations prepare their own fight. A coalition is forming to defeat the proposal, vowing to funnel money and grassroots support into Florida. That's after losing similar battles in other states.

Mark Harrington heads one of the most provocative groups out there, Created Equal. It often employs graphic campaigns to fight abortion access. This time, he said, they're honing the message.

"We have the best, I guess, evidence," Harrington said. "That is Michigan and Ohio. And so we can look back and look at all the post-election polling, the exit polling and see what messages work, and what didn't. What voters we need to focus on."

The fight over abortion access also has President Joe Biden's reelection campaign saying "Florida is in play" this November. The team launched a new attack ad Tuesday morning hitting former President Donald Trump on a potential national abortion ban.

It's unclear exactly how much effort the campaign will invest in the Sunshine State. Even fellow Democrats speculate whether Biden is seeking victory in Florida or just to force Trump to spend time and money here. When asked in a press call with reporters, the Biden-Harris campaign promised to at least "compete" in Florida.

"We're clear-eyed about how hard it will be to win Florida, but we also know that Trump does not have it in the bag," Biden-Harris campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said.

Florida Republicans continue to have more than 850,000 registered voters over Democrats. That's a margin Florida hasn't seen since the late 1980s, when Democrats had the upper hand.

The Trump campaign also fired back on abortion access in a statement Tuesday. Senior officials said the former president was supportive of states' rights.

"President Trump supports preserving life but has also made clear that he supports states' rights because he supports the voters' right to make decisions for themselves," Trump campaign senior adviser Brian Hughes said. "Where President Trump thinks voters should have the last word, Biden and many Democrats want to allow abortion up until the moment of birth and force taxpayers to pay for it."