Florida Measure Would Define Unborn Baby as a Person and Ban Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Sep 27, 2016   |   4:09PM   |   Tallahassee, FL

A petition to outlaw abortions and protect unborn babies from the moment of conception is circulating in Florida.

A project of Abolish Abortion Florida, the petition is calling for an amendment to the state constitution to make an abortion a crime of capital murder. Under the proposed language, anyone who performs or procures an abortion would be charged with first-degree, premeditated murder.

Abolish Abortion Florida said its goal is to collect enough signatures to have the amendment on the 2018 election ballot. Its members also are urging Florida legislators to consider a bill with similar language, according to the group.

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If the ballot measure passes, the state constitution would recognize that unborn babies have a right to life from the moment of fertilization. This would ban abortions and certain kinds of birth control drugs and devices that can work as abortifacients, as well as the intentional destruction of unwanted human embryos created for in vitro fertilization.

“The governing authorities of our state possess the moral, legal, and constitutional duty to establish justice for all human beings within their jurisdiction, including the pre-born fatherless by prohibiting the slaughter of children in the womb,” the petition reads. “We demand that our legislators stop passing laws to regulate abortion. We demand the total and immediate abolition of human abortion.”

Similar measures have been proposed in other states this year. In May, the Missouri House approved a bill to define an unborn baby as a person in its state constitution and ban abortions. Proposals also were introduced in Alabama and Oklahoma recently.

While the intentions of these measures are honorable, they are highly unlikely to become law. Because of the current political climate and the precedents set in the U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, courts would almost certainly strike down the measures. In 2012, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a similar personhood bill as unconstitutional.

Many pro-life groups believe that one of the keys to ending legalized abortion is to overturn Roe v. Wade. However, the current Supreme Court justices are highly unlikely to do so, especially after the unexpected death of pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia. Three of the justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and John Roberts, likely would vote to overturn Roe and return abortion laws back to the authority of the states; but five of the other justices almost certainly would not. Scalia’s seat on the high court remains empty.

To overturn Roe and make abortion illegal again, Americans need to elect a pro-life president and U.S. Senators who will put pro-life judges on the high court. This would pave the way for the reversal of Roe and a return to a country that protects every human life.