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Cost estimates for state abortion amendment could be affected by lawsuits

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(The Center Square) — Florida state officials said on Monday that litigation could affect cost estimates for a proposed constitutional amendment that could enact a right to abortion statewide.

The Office of Economic and Demographic Research held a Financial Estimating Conference Monday to review the financial impact of the ballot initiative, which will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The proposed amendment was in pending litigation before the state Supreme Court, which challenged the 2022 prohibition on most abortions in Florida for pregnancies of more than 15 weeks gestation.

A law passed in 2023 further reduced this to six weeks gestation, which could lead to additional litigation.

According to an EDR report, the amendment’s financial impact on local and state finances is difficult to determine because there are several possible outcomes related to litigation around it.

In its report, the agency says that the question will be presented to Florida voters, and passage requires a 60% threshold to be adopted. If adopted, the amendment would go into effect in January.

During the estimating conference on Monday, analysts noted that at the time their analysis was prepared in July 2024, the Heartbeat Protection Act, a six-week prohibition on abortion with exceptions, was in effect. Furthermore, it was found that the constitutional amendment could impact the state’s budget.

State data shows in 2020, the vast majority of abortions performed in Florida were before six weeks gestation at 55,834 or 74.6%. By 2022, this number had shifted to 46,011 or 55.7%, while abortions during seven and nine weeks of gestation grew to 24,015 or 29.1% in 2022, compared to 2020 when it was 11,686 or 15.6% of all abortions.

The conference agreed that if the constitutional amendment passes, this will result in more abortions and fewer live births in Florida. However, the conference noted there are variables that could affect this.

To calculate the financial impact, analysts used current law as a baseline for measurement. Initial analysis determined the proposed amendment’s impact on state and local budgets would be equivalent to what existed in 2022 prior to the prohibition.

The conference agreed that the impacts could represent cost savings for the criminal justice system, education services and health and human services. All would be affected by which prohibition — either 15 weeks or six weeks — was in effect.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, however, estimated that reproductive health restrictions cost the Florida economy $14 billion in 2023.

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