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Collier County commissioners condemn abortion rights expansion in symbolic vote

The all-male governing body unanimously opposed Amendment 4, which will be voted on statewide, this November.
Posted at 5:45 PM, Jun 11, 2024

NAPLES, Fla — As pro-abortion and anti-abortion activists debated outside their chambers, Collier County Commissioners voted Tuesday to take a symbolic stance against an amendment that could expand abortion access in Florida.

The all-male governing body voted to formally oppose Amendment 4, a "Right to Abortion" initiative is set to appear on the ballot for Florida voters in the November general election.

Collier County Commission vote against Amendment 4 symbolic vote
On Tuesday, June 11, 2024, the Collier County Commission held a symbolic vote opposing Amendment 4, a ballot proposal voters will consider in November, that expands abortion rights in Florida.

Tuesday's vote had no impact on the ballot measure, but Commissioner Rick LoCastro said it expresses their "moral stance." He said voters could still "vote their conscience."

Abortion rights advocates were very concerned, even with a vote deemed symbolic. "I am outraged, I really am," said Jane Schlechtweg, chair of the Democratic Party in Collier County.

She argued that this vote goes against the county's past commitments to protect health freedom.

"In 2023, they passed an ordinance saying that people had the right to choose. They protected the liberties of the citizens of Collier County and now they're saying that no, citizens don't have the right to choose," Schlechtweg explained.

Collier County pro abortion and anti-abortion demonstrators women
A group of pro-abortion and anti-abortion advocates debate their stances outside a Collier County Commission meeting on June 11, as commissioners hold a symbolic vote opposing the expansion of abortion rights in Florida.

Meanwhile, advocates who oppose abortion argue Amendment 4 is extremely vague and harmful to women. If passed, the measure would establish a constitutional right to abortion "before fetal viability."

"Amendment 4, the language is very deceptive because it sort of puts forward this idea of women's medical freedom when in fact what it does is strip the legislature of all ability to regulate in any way this money-making industry of abortion," said Kristina Heuser, a civil rights attorney and pro-life advocate.

In order for it to pass, Amendment 4 would need a 60% vote.

"Amendment 4 does not promote abortion... Amendment 4 only protects the woman's right to choose," Schlechtweg added.

Despite Collier County leaders making their stance clear, May polling from the Florida Chamber of Commerce suggests about 61% of Florida voters support expanding abortion rights.