Florida authorities have caught multiple individuals involved in petition fraud related to a radical effort to enshrine late-term abortion into Florida’s state constitution.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced this week that inspectors arrested a “paid petition circulator” and issued an arrest warrant for a second petition circulator after they submitted 133 invalid constitutional amendment petitions in numerous counties.

Those petitions are related to an amendment that would state: “No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

Florida currently protects babies after 15 weeks gestation, though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed a heartbeat bill in April 2023. The Florida Supreme Court has suspended that law, which would protect babies at six weeks, during a court challenge. Should the court uphold the law, it would go into effect 30 days after the ruling.

“Florida’s Constitution is a sacred document and there is a lawful method by which voters can make amendments,” Florida Secretary of State Cord Boyd, a Republican, said in a statement Tuesday. “However, when criminals seek to circumvent that process fraudulently, this is an affront to Floridians and the sanctity of our laws, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that Floridians and our constitution are protected.”

Authorities arrested 30-year-old George Edward Andrews III and booked him into the Hernando County Jail on “10 felony counts each of criminal use of personal identification information and signing another person’s name or a fictitious name to a petition.”

Police issued an active arrest warrant for 47-year-old Jamie L. Johnson, who faces “10 felony counts each of criminal use of personal identification information and signing another person’s name or a fictitious name to a petition.”

Caitlin Connors, the southern regional director of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, accused pro-abortion interest groups of “attempting to lie and cheat their way to the ballot.” The American Civil Liberties Union is leading the groups, she said.

Connors claimed the ACLU is involved in a “national effort to erase protections for babies and moms using the same playbook of deceit and dark money to hide their extreme policy of legalizing painful late-term abortions and attacking the rights of parents.”

“With more than 60% of voters supporting Florida’s law protecting babies with a heartbeat, it’s not surprising abortion advocates used deceptive language in the amendment and engaged in illegal activity,” Connors added, citing a poll her organization commissioned in March. “The abortion industry will not succeed in disregarding the laws and deceiving Floridians into supporting an amendment to enshrine second- and third-trimester abortions when babies can feel pain.”

The ACLU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, abortion supporters have leaned into state ballot measures and amendments as a strategy for getting around pro-life laws. These ballot initiatives typically use euphemisms such as “reproductive medical treatment” or “reproductive freedom” and phrases like “an individual’s right to one’s own reproductive medical treatment.”

These efforts have proved hugely successful for abortion proponents. Pro-abortion ballot measures passed in California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont in 2022, and in Ohio in 2023.

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