Ron DeSantis quietly signs Florida’s 6-week abortion ban

Gov. Ron DeSantis quietly signed legislation Thursday that would ban most abortions after six weeks in Florida, a move that will weigh on his likely 2024 presidential bid.

DeSantis said last month he would sign the measure, which was carried out by the GOP-dominated legislature, despite most public polls suggesting that banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy is unpopular in both political parties.

Florida law bans abortions after six weeks but creates new exceptions for rape and incest up to 15 weeks gestation. Existing allowances for life and health of the mother up to 15 weeks remain unaffected.

DeSantis signed the measure into law just hours after lawmakers passed it Thursday afternoon. But he didn’t publicly announce this until after 11 p.m

The lack of fanfare around the legislation underscores how difficult abortion policy is for Republicans after the 2022 midterm elections — when Democrats hammered the GOP nationally on the issue — and especially for DeSantis as he weighs the GOP nomination for the to look for presidents.

The latest University of North Florida poll on the proposal in late February found that 75% of state residents are either somewhat or strongly opposed to the six-week ban, including 61% of Republicans.

It’s the latest move by Republicans to restrict access to abortion in Florida. Last year, DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion ban passed by the GOP-controlled legislature, currently before the Florida Supreme Court. The six-week ban is suspended until the court rules on that proposal.

After the US Supreme Court ruled in June that there is no constitutional right to abortion, Florida has become a place where people across the Southeast flock to for abortions as other states have banned them.

Women seeking out-of-state abortions in Florida increased to 6,708 in 2022 from 3,988 in 2020, according to Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.

The abortion fight will no doubt take center stage as Republican presidential candidates attempt to wade through the murky political waters of the issue. Being anti-abortion is a must for any candidate trying to win a Republican presidential primary, but it can be toxic in a general election to see him going too far.

Florida’s proposed six-week ban quickly caught the attention of the White House, a clear signal that President Joe Biden sees it as useful political water against DeSantis, with whom he has been at odds publicly for months.

“The President and Vice President believe that women should be able to make health decisions with their physicians and families — free from political interference,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement when the bill was drafted was submitted in March. “You are committed to protecting access to reproductive care and continue to call on Congress to protect Roe v. to restore Wade in federal law.”

Only two out of 28 Republicans in the Florida Senate voted against it. Both “no” votes are newcomers to lawmakers who have flipped the legislative suspension seats worn by Biden in 2020.

“I don’t support that legislation today, but I believe it will pass and become the law of this state,” said Republican Senator Alexis Calatyud, whose Miami seat won Biden in 2020 with 54 percent of the vote. “And I believe it will go a long way in changing the hearts and minds that have been affected by a decade of anti-life culture.”

Former President Donald Trump’s supporters see some possibility of trying to tie what they see as an unpopular bill around the neck of DeSantis, who is not expected to announce his candidacy until May or June, when he candidate.

“Ron DeSantis tried to create an image where he never backs down,” said a former Trump aide, citing the name of a pro-DeSantis super PAC named “Never Back Down,” who has previously reported, Having raised $30 million. “Well, he’s definitely pregnant with this bill, and it’s been well over six weeks – so ironically, maybe he’ll live from the consequences of his actions, too.”

For his part, Trump has been largely silent on the abortion issue since announcing that he was running for president again. Shortly after a midterm election cycle that saw several of his handpicked candidates for the US Senate beaten in key races, Trump accused them of mishandling the “abortion issue.”

“It wasn’t my fault that Republicans didn’t live up to expectations at MidTerms,” ​​Trump wrote on Truth Social in early January. “It was the ‘abortion issue’ that was mismanaged by many Republicans, particularly those who firmly insisted on no exceptions, even in the case of rape, incest or mother’s life, which lost large numbers of voters.”

Since then, however, Trump has avoided the issue, even after four years of seeing a series of sweeping abortion restrictions in the White House, including a ban on federal family planning program providers from referring patients for abortions. That was part of his stated effort to “defund” Planned Parenthood.

So far this year, however, he has brushed off questions on the subject from reporters and generally tried to focus on other issues popular with Republican primary voters.

Other 2024 GOP contenders have taken different approaches to answering questions about their abortion position.

Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to run in 2024, is one of the party’s most ardent anti-abortion opponents. He supports a federal ban on abortion.

Former Trump administration ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who announced her candidacy in February, told NBC’s Today Show that she would not support a “full federal ban,” but rather a 15-week federal ban on abortion.

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who this week announced a 2024 selection committee, has ignored questions about his position on a federal abortion ban but has supported anti-abortion legislation during his time in the US Senate, including a proposed 20-week ban that was sponsored by Lindsey Graham, Senator from South Carolina.

Originally published Apr 14, 2023 5:31 am