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Panel Briefly Revives Abortion Measure

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Constitution Revision Commission on Tuesday revived a proposal to narrow the right to privacy and allow the increased regulation of abortions.

But following the 18-14 vote, Commissioner John Stemberger, the sponsor of the measure (Proposal 22), withdrew the proposal from further consideration.

Stemberger invoked the CRC’s so-called “resurrection” rule that allows members to revive proposals that never advanced from the CRC’s committees.

His proposal was defeated in a 4-2 vote by the CRC’s Judicial Committee in early February. But under the rule, Stemberger’s proposal was revived on Tuesday with a majority vote of the full commission.

Stemberger, however, said he never intended to ask the commission to vote to advance the proposal. Instead, the Orlando lawyer said he used the procedure to give himself a forum to explain the measure, after he said he was unfairly and personally attacked for supporting the proposal in a series of public hearings held by the CRC around the state.

Stemberger has maintained the privacy clause in the state constitution was never intended to apply to abortion and other personal issues outside of informational privacy. He has objected to the state courts use of the privacy clause to overturn a law requiring parental consent for minors seeking an abortion and to negate another law requiring a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion.

Opponents of Stemberger’s proposal said it would limit a woman’s right to an abortion and they objected to efforts to narrow Florida’s privacy rights, which are broader than the rights in the federal constitution.

CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff said Stemberger will be given 10 minutes Wednesday to talk about his proposal before the full commission.

The 37-member CRC, which meets every 20 years, is in the process of deciding what constitutional changes will be offered to voters as ballot proposals in the November general election.