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TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Florida Voice for the Unborn) — While I am highly optimistic that we can – and we will – defeat pro-abortion Amendment 4 this fall, in order to do so, the Florida pro-life movement needs to get its act together quickly. Otherwise, the freight train of death is going to steamroll through this state, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of unborn babies for years to come.

Amendment 4 and the Florida Supreme Court’s April 1st abortion decisions

There’s really no need to rehash in great detail what the Florida Supreme Court did on April 1st with its decision regarding the state’s 15-week abortion ban. But there are a few key things I think are important to mention – because they will have an impact on our efforts to defeat pro-abortion Amendment 4 at the ballot box later this year.

READ: Florida Supreme Court upholds six-week, 15-week abortion bans, rejects ‘right’ to abortion

While it took the high court way too long to issue its opinion on the legality of the 15-week ban, its April 1st decision, which was 6-to-1, was truly momentous. In one swell swoop, the court got rid of 35 years’ worth of bad abortion-related precedents and correctly interpreted our state constitution’s privacy clause as not implicitly guaranteeing a “right” to abortion (especially since the clause itself makes no mention of abortion whatsoever).

The Florida Supreme Court’s longstanding misinterpretation of the privacy clause had been one of the chief impediments to enacting meaningful pro-life legislation. So, now, the legislature and governor can no longer hide behind the clause and pretend that they cannot outlaw all Florida abortions, from the moment of conception without exception. Under both the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24, 2022, Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade and the Florida Supreme Court’s April 1st decision upholding the 15-week abortion ban, there is absolutely nothing – legally speaking – stopping the legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis from enacting a complete abortion ban similar to the ones Texas and more than a dozen other red states have enacted since the fall of Roe.

Per the “trigger provision” of 2023’s Heartbeat Protection Act, the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling on April 1st permitted that law to go into effect on May 1st! Accordingly, right now, most Florida abortions after six-weeks’ gestation are finally outlawed! Although we continue to weep for the lost lives of unborn children who are deemed less than six weeks’ gestation and those who are excluded from legal protection after six weeks’ gestation due to one of the many immoral “exceptions” contained within the Heartbeat Law, this law is nonetheless an important victory and is truly saving the lives of hundreds of babies each day in our Sunshine State.

READ: Florida’s six-week heartbeat law takes effect, expected to save thousands of lives

But there’s no way to sugarcoat this: the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the 15-week abortion ban could have been issued many months ago. The release of the decision on the same date – and at the exact time – that the court issued its separate opinion permitting the proposed abortion-on-demand constitutional amendment on the ballot was actually a betrayal in of itself of the unborn as well as Florida’s pro-life movement.

Not only have thousands upon thousands of unborn children needlessly died in Florida abortions than otherwise would have been the case, but the triggering of the Heartbeat Law on May 1st has given the pro-abortion side a talking point that would have been somewhat diminished if the law had gone into effect, say, on January 1st of this year.

Now, as to the separate contemporaneous decision that the court issued permitting the pro-abortion amendment to proceed to the ballot, it was very close, with four justices in the majority and three justices dissenting. Notably, the three female justices on the court were the dissenters, while the four justices who voted in favor of the initiative were male.

Five of the current justices on the court were appointed by Governor DeSantis and the other two were appointed by Republican governors (if you count former Governor Charlie Crist as a Republican). In my view, Governor DeSantis and his pro-life establishment allies bear a lot of responsibility for the court’s catastrophic decision to permit the clearly misleading pro-abortion proposal onto the ballot. For years, Governor DeSantis and members of the pro-life establishment repeatedly and publicly promised that this court was authentically conservative and pro-life. In my opinion, we got played.

In particular, prior to the April 1st ruling, a lot of speculation in the pro-life community had been made about Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz’s questioning of attorneys at the February 7th oral arguments concerning the disqualification of the pro-abortion ballot proposal. Chief Justice Muñiz, who is one of the five justices that had been appointed to the court by Governor DeSantis, brought up Article 1, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution, which reads:

“All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness, to be rewarded for industry, and to acquire, possess and protect property. No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or physical disability.”

Do “natural persons” include unborn children, from the moment of conception? In both of its April 1st decisions, the Florida Supreme Court did not answer that question.

READ: Think unborn babies are just ‘clumps of cells’? These videos will make you think again

And in my opinion, if a majority of justices on the court were unwilling to stop the pro-abortion amendment from qualifying for the ballot, there is no reason to believe that the justices will suddenly reverse course after the November election, if the pro-abortion amendment passes with 60% of the vote or more.

While we have a moral responsibility to ensure all legal options remain on the table should the amendment pass, in every state that has enacted a pro-abortion constitutional amendment all legal challenges to those amendments have been unsuccessful. That is the unvarnished truth.

From a practical, political, and legal standpoint, the engrafting of an explicit “right” to abortion written into the text of the state constitution itself and approved by the people of Florida in such an overwhelming manner would thwart any hope of the Florida Supreme Court ever recognizing the personhood of unborn children via the state’s governing document.

Therefore, it would be another serious mistake to think that the potential passage of pro-abortion Amendment 4 this fall would be magically undone at the Florida Supreme Court. It won’t be. Accordingly, we MUST be laser-focused on ensuring that Amendment 4 does not reach the 60% voter threshold on November 5th.

Florida Voice for the Unborn’s plans to oppose pro-abortion Amendment 4 at the ballot box this fall

Since April 1st, I have been crisscrossing the state, speaking to different audiences on what we need to do as a pro-life movement to defeat pro-abortion Amendment 4 in the fall. Not only have I been speaking, but I have been listening carefully to what my fellow pro-life grassroots advocates have to say about what we need to do as a pro-life movement now that we know for certain that pro-abortion Amendment 4 will be on this year’s general election ballot.

When I formed Florida Voice for the Unborn in January 2020, I did so because, as a longtime pro-life grassroots advocate, I felt there was a strong need for an effective grassroots lobbying apparatus in Tallahassee.

Indeed, Florida Voice for the Unborn has brought – what I like to call – a populist approach to pro-life lobbying, with our various rallies in Tallahassee, postcard campaigns, and Grassroots Action Alerts over approximately the last four and a half years. You and I both know that the pro-life establishment takes a much more top-down, elitist approach, which has caused some tension between groups like ours and the establishment.

READ: Google bans viral video showing former abortionist describing how abortions are done

Last May, immediately after the pro-aborts launched their evil citizens’ petition initiative to get pro-abortion Amendment 4 on the ballot, Florida Voice for the Unborn went right to work by issuing a CodeRED Alert for Florida’s unborn children. Our First Annual Dobbs Day Banquet and Workshop last year on June 24, 2023, in the Jacksonville-area produced tremendous fruit, including the state’s first and foremost “Decline to Sign” campaign. Although Florida Voice for the Unborn is designed to be a public policy organization, we stepped up to the plate and filled the leadership void here in Florida. And we continued to do that by organizing a great Pro-Life Rally and Press Conference outside the Florida Supreme Court on February 7th.

While I was hoping and praying that the Florida pro-life movement would truly come under one umbrella to fight pro-abortion Amendment 4 if and when it qualified for ballot placement, the truth is, that has not happened.

What has developed are a variety of groups/coalitions focused on persuading their fellow Floridians to “VOTE NO” on Amendment 4. Each such entity is working to the best of its ability in its own respective spheres of influence. But this is not to say that all efforts are equal.

Florida Voice for the Unborn has a unique and distinct role to play in the fight against pro-abortion Amendment 4 at the ballot box – and unlike many others we have a verified track record in obtaining results and using our limited resources efficiently.

Every effort from now until Election Day on November 5th MUST be geared to one thing and one thing only: is what we are doing going to affect the outcome of the election when it comes to Amendment 4?

Every effort from now until Election Day on November 5th MUST be geared to one thing and one thing only: is what we are doing going to affect the outcome of the election when it comes to Amendment 4?

If the activity is what the pro-abort liberals and RINOs call “performative art,” then it’s truly useless and a complete waste of time. For instance, some believe we need to hold voter registration drives. In my view, that’s one of those performative activities that actually won’t move the needle here in Florida. First, our legislature and Governor have recently tightened the laws around third-party voter registration efforts, making it very hard to conduct effective drives. Second, the Republican Party of Florida has been very good at increasing conservative voter registrations, so much so that Republicans in Florida have nearly a one-million voter registration advantage over Democrats. That is huge!

We intend to focus almost exclusively on LIKELY VOTERS, i.e. those Florida voters who have a strong history of voting in past general elections.

More specifically, because we know that former President Donald Trump is the runaway favorite to win Florida over “President” Joe Biden, and because we know that the only way that the pro-abortion side can be successful in passing Amendment 4 with 60% or more of the vote is by having enough Trump voters split their vote, it is imperative that our messaging be heavily targeted to Trump supporters. That is, if you’re voting for Trump, we must communicate that you are also obligated to VOTE NO on pro-abortion Amendment 4.

And as to messaging, the messenger’s credibility is KEY! Pro-life groups are most credible when we talk about the humanity of the unborn child and the reality that abortion snuffs out an innocent child’s life. Defenders of Amendment 4 are least credible when they are forced to pretend that abortion is just another medical procedure and that the growing baby inside his or her mother’s womb is just a meaningless “clump of cells.”

So, Florida Voice for the Unborn has a targeted audience with a message that will be credible and not artificially contrived by high-priced consultants who want the Florida pro-life movement to continue doing what clearly did NOT work in other states facing these same type of abortion-related ballot initiatives.

Florida Voice for the Unborn is actively comprising very large county-by-county lists of likely Florida voters who we need to target in the next several months. At our Second Annual Dobbs Day Banquet & Workshop in Winter Park (outside of Orlando) this June 24th, we will workshop ideas on how to carry out the mechanics of our vision. It will be an exciting, highly motivating day of activism with a great meal and an awesome keynote address as well! Most importantly, if we get the mechanics right, I absolutely believe that our efforts are going to have a tremendous positive effect on what all the public polls say will be a very, very close race to defeat Amendment 4!

The 2024 legislative session

Running 60 days, the annual legislative session began on January 9th and ended on March 8th. I’ve broken down my further analysis of this year’s session into “good news” and “bad news.”

The Good News

Due to Florida Voice for the Unborn’s sustained grassroots lobbying efforts, for the first time ever, a bill completely protecting all unborn children from abortion (at the moment of conception onward) was filed for consideration in the legislature. Known as House Bill (HB) 1519, pro-life champion Rep. David Borrero’s legislation would have resulted in the closing down of every single brick-and-mortar abortion mill in our state.

Moreover, although a slew of vehemently pro-abortion bills were filed in both chambers of the legislature, none of them received a single committee hearing. (As just one example, HB 1283, which the pro-aborts Orwellianly called “the Health Care Freedom Act,” would have required pro-life pregnancy centers to provide a written notice to all women entering their premises explicitly stating that they do not commit abortions. And if the pregnancy centers did not comply, then the state of Florida could fine them $5,000 per day until they were found to be held in compliance).

Other items that constitute “good news” include the final passage of HB 775/Senate Bill (SB) 790 (Surrendered Infants) and HB 415/SB 436 (Pregnancy and Parenting Resources Website).

The former legislation extends the period in which a newborn can be legally surrendered from seven days to 30 days and makes some other minor changes to Florida’s existing Safe Haven Law. The legislation has yet to be sent to Governor Ron DeSantis for his signature.

READ: Baby girl abandoned in Florida safe haven box adopted by firefighter who rescued her

Concerning the latter legislation, the new resources website will serve as a clearinghouse that will contain easy-to-navigate pregnancy and parenting resources. This website will NOT provide abortion-related information offered by abortion businesses, such as Planned Parenthood. Governor DeSantis recently signed the legislation into law, but did not hold a signing ceremony or press conference to highlight it.

The Bad News

While the limited victories noted above are important, the 2024 legislative session was an overall disappointment for Florida’s unborn children. Two main factors hampered positive progress.

First, Governor DeSantis’ disastrous GOP presidential primary challenge to former President Donald Trump’s clear front-runner status resulted in DeSantis becoming effectively neutered upon his permanent return to Tallahassee near the end of January.

Second, the Florida Supreme Court dragged its feet on resolving the pro-abortion legal challenge to 2022’s 15-week abortion ban as well as on deciding whether to permit the abortion-until-birth proposed state constitutional amendment on this year’s general election ballot.

Those two combined factors gave Republican legislative leaders – House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo – the cover they needed to effectively keep the status quo in place.

HB 1519 (The Complete Abortion Ban) did not have a companion in the Senate. While that is a hard obstacle to overcome in the legislative process, Speaker Renner could still have chosen to bring HB 1519 – at the very least – before its first subcommittee of reference. Despite Florida Voice for the Unborn’s intense lobbying efforts, he stubbornly refused to make this modest concession.

Moreover, the pro-life establishment groups (who have demonstrated no interest whatsoever in completely making Florida totally abortion-free) pretended as if HB 1519 did not even exist. For instance, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Florida Family Policy Council (which has recently – and ironically – rebranded itself as “Florida Family Voice”) did not acknowledge HB 1519 in any of its communications.

Thus, HB 1519, which would have been triggered upon the Florida Supreme Court’s favorable April 1st decision to uphold the 15-week abortion ban, died without a single committee hearing in our “pro-life” supermajority legislature.

Another grave disappointment occurred near the end of the session with the stunning implosion of SB 476/HB 651 (Civil Liability for the Wrongful Death of an Unborn Child). As detailed HERE in Florida Voice for the Unborn’s February 26th e-update, RINO (Republican In Name Only) Senate President Passidomo was responsible for caving into the pro-abortion lobby and torpedoing this commonsense legislation.

And speaking of Senate President Passidomo, she is also the main reason why this year’s Surrendered Infants legislation did not include a provision incentivizing local communities to establish lifesaving infant safety devices (commonly referred to as “Baby Boxes”), like the ones currently found in Ocala and Newberry. Sadly, newborn infants continue to be illegally abandoned here in Florida, with a newborn girl found dead in the trash on the University of Tampa’s campus at the end of April.

Finally, I want to note that another attempt was made in the House to bring forth a proposed state constitutional amendment that would increase the percentage of voter approval of all future amendments from the current 60% to 66.67%. Known as House Joint Resolution (HJR) 335, the proposal did not have a needed companion in the Senate. Nonetheless, Speaker Renner allowed HJR 335 to be heard and passed in its first subcommittee of reference. However, it did not proceed any further in this year’s legislative process.

Republished with permission from Florida Voice for the Unborn.

Florida Voice for the Unborn is a Tallahassee-based grassroots lobbying group that only focuses on pro-life issues impacting the unborn. It is strictly independent, and its work is guided by faith in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. Florida Voice for the Unborn supports all peaceful efforts by elected officials and others to end abortion and save lives. Follow us on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Truth Social, and YouTube @UnbornVoiceFL – and visit our website HERE.