Statement from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children January 22, 2024
January 15, 2024 • Diocese of St. Augustine

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

Our fidelity to Christ calls us to uphold and protect the inviolable dignity and sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Great progress has been made in recent years to protect women and their preborn children in Florida. That progress, as noted below, is at great risk. 

We are encouraged that our state’s 15-week abortion limit remains in effect as the Florida Supreme Court considers a challenge to it. The legislature’s passage of a bill to further limit abortion to six-weeks of gestation during the 2023 session and its approval by Governor DeSantis is a momentous achievement. This legislation also increases resources to pregnant women and young families through the Florida Pregnancy Care Network almost six-fold. If the 15-week law is upheld, the further limit to six weeks will go into effect thirty days later, ushering in a new era. Much remains to be done to properly recognize the dignity of the child in the womb, but this marks tremendous progress in the legal protection of preborn children in Florida. 

This progress, as well as gains made over the past several decades to protect women and their preborn children from the harms of abortion, is at significant risk. An extreme ballot initiative proposing to amend our state constitution to legalize full-term abortion is of grave concern. If ultimately passed, the amendment would legalize abortion up until birth, including when the baby is capable of feeling pain. While the proposed amendment permits parental notification, the amendment would eliminate the current law requiring parental consent for a minor daughter to receive an abortion. 

As is required of the petition initiative process, the proposed ballot language is under review by the Florida Supreme Court. In our briefs to the Court, we contend that the ballot title and summary are misleading, which should preclude its placement on the ballot. The title states the amendment “limits” government interference with abortion when the amendment actually prohibits all regulation before viability. Neither does the language provide fair notice of its impact on existing statutory protections for women. If this extreme amendment ultimately appears on the November 2024 ballot, we urge all Floridians to “vote no.” 

A healthy society can only continue to flourish if based on a consistent recognition of the rights of each individual, especially the weakest and most defenseless. With this in mind, we remain committed to pursuing full legal protection of pre-born children and continue to support efforts to offer practical assistance and accompaniment to women and their families experiencing difficulties during pregnancy and beyond. We invite all people of good will to join us in these endeavors.

Join Bishop Erik Pohlmeier on Relevant Radio for the Family Rosary at 8 p.m. EST.

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For more information, visit the USCCB website
Most Rev. Thomas G. Wenski  Archdiocese of Miami Most Rev. Gerald M. Barbarito  Diocese of Palm Beach Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane  Diocese of Venice Most Rev. John G. Noonan  Diocese of Orlando 
Most Rev. Gregory L. Parkes  Diocese of St. Petersburg Most Rev. William A. Wack, C.S.C.  Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Most Rev. Erik T. Pohlmeier  Diocese of St. Augustine Most Rev. Enrique E. Delgado  Archdiocese of Miami