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Rep. Frederica Wilson pushes for proposed Florida abortion rights constitutional amendment

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona , right, listens to Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat who represents Miami Gardens, during a roundtable discussion on Thursday, May 4, 2023, held at Dr. Frederica S. Wilson / Skyway Elementary School in Miami Gardens. The event promoted the 5,000 Role Models mentorship program in Miami-Dade public schools.
Jose A. Iglesias
Miami Herald
Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, of Miami Garden will help collect signatures this weekend for a proposed constitutional amendment that would ensure abortion rights in Florida. (ABOVE) Wilson sitting next to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, right, on Thursday, May 4, 2023.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, of Miami Gardens, and Democratic state Sen. Jason Pizzo, of Miami Lakes, will help collect signatures this weekend for a proposed constitutional amendment that would ensure abortion rights in Florida.

The two legislators will join Men4Choice, which rallies men to support reproductive freedom, outside the entrance to the Hard Rock Stadium before the University of Miami Hurricanes' college football game against the University of Louisville Cardinals. The event will run from 9 a.m. to noon.

Wilson will retell her own story of a stillbirth prior to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, according to a statement released by her congressional office.

In a stirring speech on the House floor last January, Wilson recounted her “painful” experience of being forced to carry a stillbirth at a time when abortion was illegal in Florida. At the time, House Republicans were pushing for anti-abortion legislation.

“I had to learn how, first of all, to handle the immense grief that comes with losing a child. And the fact that the corpse of that child was still within me,” she said. “I cried every night and all day.”

Wilson later posted a video of her remarks on Twitter, now called X.

“Today, I relived one of the most painful times in my life on the House floor,” she wrote. “I shared my experience of being forced to carry my dead baby. Prohibited by law to induce labor, I carried my deceased child inside me for two months and almost died. We can't go back.”

Joining Wilson and Pizzo at the Hard Rock Stadium will be Aaron Bos-Lun, Deputy Executive Director for Men4Choice.

Supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment face legal challenges in getting the measure on the 2024 ballot.

The political committee Floridians Protecting Freedom, which is sponsoring the proposal, is fighting before the Florida Supreme Court against Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who contends the language of the measure is misleading to voters.

Moody and other opponents have raised a series of objections to the proposal’s wording, including contending that the word “viability” can have multiple meanings.

But attorneys for Floridians Protecting Freedom argue that the meaning of the word “viability” in the context of abortion has long been understood and that voters “can be trusted to know what it would mean to live in a world limiting government interference with abortion before viability.”

The Florida dispute is playing out after voters in some other states have backed abortion rights, most recently last week in Ohio. Ballot measures emerged after the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the decades-old Roe v. Wade ruling, effectively leaving abortion decisions to states.

Floridians Protecting Freedom announced its initiative in May after the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis approved a law that could prevent abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The six-week limit is contingent on the outcome of a legal battle about a 15-week abortion limit that DeSantis and lawmakers passed in 2022.

To get on the November 2024 ballot, Floridians Protecting Freedom needs to submit at least 891,523 valid petition signatures before a Feb. 1 deadline and receive Florida Supreme Court approval of the wording of the ballot summary, which is the part of the amendment that voters would see.

The ballot summary says, in part: “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.”

The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.

Sergio Bustos is WLRN's Vice President for News. He's been an editor at the Miami Herald and POLITICO Florida. Most recently, Bustos was Enterprise/Politics Editor for the USA Today Network-Florida’s 18 newsrooms. Reach him at sbustos@wlrnnews.org
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