State economists attending the Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FIEC) are doubtful they can estimate the financial impact of the proposed constitutional amendment on abortion rights by the November deadline. The team of economists is unsure if they can resolve the financial implications of the amendment due to the uncertain future of Florida’s 15-week abortion ban, and the impending law banning abortions after six weeks. The FIEC is now leaning towards developing a financial statement explaining why they cannot provide a financial assessment, despite the number of abortions performed in Florida rising to 82,581 in 2022.
State Economists Doubtful on Pricing Proposed Abortion Access Amendment
The possibility of state economists determining a cost for a potential constitutional amendment to secure abortion access by the November 2024 deadline seems unlikely. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FIEC), comprised of four state economists, noted that a Supreme Court ruling on the state’s 2022 15-week abortion ban before the November deadline is improbable.
If the Supreme Court supports the 15-week ban before the deadline, a new law banning abortions after six weeks will become active thirty days later in 2023. This law is also expected to face legal disputes.
The economists are inclined towards crafting a financial statement explaining their inability to assign a cost to the proposed amendment. “This measure presents a host of permutations that pose a challenge,” said Amy Baker, Chief Economist at the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.
The FIEC has two more meetings scheduled before the Nov. 22 deadline, during which they will work on a ‘long form,’ — a review of all information examined in their fiscal review of the proposed amendment.
Legal and Economic Challenges
The legal hindrances are just one aspect of the problem. The economic effect of the 2022 15-week abortion ban on the state’s economy is unknown, making it hard to calculate the financial impact of the proposed constitutional amendment.
Senate economist Azhar Khan noted external factors influencing Florida’s economic landscape, which are also not stable.
Florida witnessed 74,868 abortions in 2020, with 74% performed before six weeks, and nearly 16% between seven and nine weeks. Also, nearly 4,000 procedures were for women living outside Florida, mainly from Georgia and Alabama, where abortion laws are stricter.
In 2022, the number of abortions rose to 82,581, with an increase in the number of out-of-state women seeking abortions.
Public Testimony and Future Steps
The FIEC held a public hearing featuring supporters, opponents, and economists specializing in the state’s education, health and human services, and criminal justice programs. Kara Gross represented the proposed amendment, while Katie Glenn Daniel represented Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, opposing the amendment.
The FIEC has previously struggled to put a price tag on proposed amendments, such as the expansion of Medicaid in 2019, and a proposed utility amendment. Neither made the ballot. The Florida Supreme Court will review the proposed constitutional amendment to ensure it meets legal standards. Meanwhile, Attorney General Ashley Moody is opposing the proposal.