By Karen Barry Schwarz, Special to the Florida Catholic

What is Amendment 4?

Amendment 4 is a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution that would essentially establish an unlimited right to abortion throughout pregnancy even when the heartbeat of the preborn child is detected, when the preborn child can experience pain, and when the child is capable of living outside the womb. Amendment 4 will appear on the November 5, 2024, ballot and require approval from 60 percent of the electorate to pass.

Why is Amendment 4 so controversial?

Amendment 4 is an extreme proposal, essentially allowing abortion at any time for any reason, completely and dangerously unregulated. Since abortion is already legal in the state, with exceptions allowing access to abortion in a multitude of circumstances, this amendment to our state constitution is unnecessary, and has caused some confusion among Floridians. Further, the language of Amendment 4 is misleading, open to misinterpretation, and can be confusing in itself. The truth is, Amendment 4 is not what it seems, and it’s way too extreme, even for those who believe abortion should be legal in some circumstances.

Why should I vote NO on Amendment 4?

There are four very good reasons to vote NO on Amendment 4: Babies, Girls, Women and the State of Florida.

MORE BABIES AT RISK. Amendment 4 puts more BABIES at risk, allowing for second and third trimester abortions.

DETAIL: Babies are at risk from any abortion, of course, and the Catholic Church prays for a day when all abortion is unthinkable. However, in places where abortion is allowed, late-stage abortion is particularly gruesome.  The misleading language of Amendment 4 calls for “viability,” but does not define the term. But Florida law does define “viability,” and it is defined as the stage of development when the life of a fetus is sustainable outside the womb, generally accepted to be 22-24 weeks of pregnancy, or about six months. This means that if Amendment 4 is passed, second and even third trimester abortions will be allowed!  Is this what we want for our state? NO. Current Florida law allows abortion, up to six weeks gestation.

PUTS GIRLS AT RISK. Amendment 4 puts GIRLS at risk, eliminating the requirement of parental consent for minors.

DETAIL: While preserving parental “notification” in our state constitution, Amendment 4 would invalidate and eliminate the current law that requires parental “consent” for a minor to have an abortion. This part of Amendment 4’s language is particularly misleading, as many are fooled by the word “notification,” thinking it implies “consent.” It does not! Requiring only “notification,” which is likely to reach parents after the fact, puts girls at risk of making dangerous, permanent, and life-altering decisions for themselves and their babies without the guidance of their parents. This would make abortion the only medical decision for a minor in which parents have no say. Is this what we want for girls, and their families, in Florida? NO.

PUTS WOMEN AT RISK. Amendment 4 puts WOMEN at risk, weakening the medical doctor requirement.

DETAIL: “Healthcare providers” – not just physicians – could determine if an abortion is “necessary” to protect the mother’s “health.” Even some employees of abortion clinics, such as nurses and counselors, could approve dangerous, late-term abortions! Is this how we want women to be taken care of in Florida? NO.

OUR STATE CONSTITUTION. Amendment 4, if passed, would make Florida one of the most pro-abortion states in the country, turning us into an “Abortion Tourism” state.

DETAIL: The language in Amendment 4 creates a broad “health” loophole, allowing abortion for just about any reason, at any time. “Patient’s health” is not defined in the amendment, allowing post-viability, extremely late-term abortions for treatable, temporary health concerns. Emotional health, for example, would justify an abortion when a child could survive outside the womb! This kind of loophole allows broadscale access to abortion and would make Florida one of the most pro-abortion states in the nation. Since the Roe v. Wade ruling was overturned, abortion laws now rest in the hands of the states. Since many states have recently restricted or outlawed abortion, those states that have passed sweeping, widespread abortion laws are now designated “Abortion Tourism” states, with people traveling, often illegally, to those states to seek an abortion. Is this what we want for our state?  NO.

Many are under the wrong general impression about Amendment 4, believing that it would simply restore Florida back to when Roe v. Wade was in effect. This is not true. The fact is that Amendment 4 goes dangerously beyond what was permitted in the Roe v. Wade ruling. It would eliminate important health and safety measures that protect women, remove parental consent for any minor seeking an abortion, and allow for abortion through the third trimester of pregnancy. Further, it would make our state one of the most pro-abortion states in the nation. Four strong reasons to vote NO on Amendment 4!

Some – those who are in favor of legal abortion in some circumstances – think that Amendment 4 would simply allow access to abortion for women in crisis in Florida. But – abortion is already legal in Florida! If Amendment 4 does not pass, abortion would still be legal in Florida until a baby’s heartbeat can be detected, and in certain other, life-threatening or extreme circumstances. Current, common sense laws that protect the safety of women and girls, would remain in effect!

What is the Catholic Church doing to help pregnant women in need?

The Catholic Church is committed to helping women in need during and after pregnancies. For decades, numerous Catholic social service agencies, in collaboration with faith-based and secular organizations, have assisted pregnant women in need with material resources and personal accompaniment during pregnancy and after their child is born.

Walking with Moms in Need, a nationwide program initiated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, operates at the Parish level, to increase support for pregnant and parenting mothers in need. It works to ensure that any woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, or parenting in difficult circumstances, can turn to her local Catholic Church and be connected with the resources she needs. As Pope Francis reminds us, Parishes need to be “islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.”

In Florida, each Catholic diocese is working together, through the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops at, to help Floridians understand the dangers of Amendment 4 to women, their children, and their families. The Church supports the Florida Voters Against Extremism at coalition to educate voters on how Amendment 4 is harmful.

What can I do to help defeat Amendment 4?

  • Learn the facts about the proposed Amendment 4, as well as the details of current Florida law allowing abortion, and tell your friends!
  • Pray, and fast, for the defeat of this dangerous pro-abortion amendment.
  • Vote NO on Amendment 4 in this fall’s General Election! Amendment 4 is not what it seems, and it’s way too extreme.

Where can I learn more? 

For more information visit:

Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops at

Diocese of Venice Office of Respect Life at

Florida Voters Against Extremism at

Want to get involved?

Contact the Diocese’s Director of Respect Life Jeanne Berdeaux, at, or 941-374-1068.