April 18, 2023

Florida Abortion Law

“Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill into law that bans most abortions after six weeks… The legislation makes exceptions for abortions in cases of rape, incest and when the mother's life or health are at serious risk.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left argues that signing the law will harm DeSantis in future elections by alienating moderate voters.

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) describes his state as ‘a citadel of freedom,’ ‘freedom’s linchpin’ and ‘freedom’s vanguard.’ He titled his memoir ‘The Courage to Be Free” and called his budget a “Framework for Freedom.’ In his State of the State address last month, he said: ‘We find ourselves in Florida on the front lines in the battle for freedom.’ The ongoing 60-day state legislative session in Tallahassee, which Mr. DeSantis is treating as a springboard to announce a presidential bid, shows the hollowness of his rhetoric.”

Editorial Board, Washington Post

“The measure prohibits abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant. It makes exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, or to save the life of the pregnant person. However, two doctors have to agree the abortion was ‘necessary,’ and the patient ‘must provide a copy of a restraining order, police report, medical record, or other court order or documentation proving’ they were the victim of rape or incest…

“Regardless of how it plays out in the courts, DeSantis has publicly endorsed a very unpopular position. Every time an abortion-related issue has been on the ballot, the people vote in favor of protecting reproductive rights, not taking them away. Signing the six-week ban into law will haunt DeSantis for the rest of his political career.”

Tori Otten, New Republic

“On Friday morning, he barely mentioned [the bill] during an address at the preeminent religious conservative school in the country. During his speech at Liberty University in Virginia, the Republican governor attacked woke ideology, highlighted his ongoing fight with Disney, mentioned his wife’s battle with cancer and touted his electability. It was familiar territory from a governor eyeing a presidential bid. What stood out was what wasn’t in it…

“Abortion was given only a passing reference, underscoring how uncomfortable the topic makes leading Republicans, even as Republican-dominated legislatures aggressively pursue more restrictive laws. The night before, DeSantis marked the bill signing with an 11 p.m. tweet, not a press event that often accompanies a signature policy achievement… Polling shows that many Americans don’t support strict abortion bans, including 62 percent who oppose outlawing abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected — usually around six weeks of pregnancy.”

Ekaterina Pechenkina, Politico

“Before he spoke, the students joyfully sang a couple of ‘contemporary Christian’ tunes and the old hymn ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’ The crowd seemed ready for some religiopolitical fire and brimstone. And then … DeSantis pretty much delivered the stock speech he’s been using in appearances all over the country, an extended series of boasts about how he’s made Florida a ‘refuge of sanity,’ attracting hordes of blue-state escapees hungry for wealth and freedom. It was like going to church and, instead of a sermon, hearing a speech prepared for a Rotary Club…

“Maybe this soulless and firmly transactional approach is all DeSantis needs to do to strengthen his standing among conservative Evangelicals. But this seems like a lost opportunity for him to create real buzz in one of the leading forums of that very important segment of the Republican-primary electorate… If DeSantis is ultimately going to offer Republicans little more than a more electable version of what Trump has more entertainingly offered them since 2015, potential supporters will find excuses not to turn out for him on cold nights in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the flesh may be willing but the spirit may be weak.”

Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine

From the Right

The right argues that signing the law was necessary for DeSantis’s presidential ambitions, and urges Republicans to improve their messaging on abortion.

The right argues that signing the law was necessary for DeSantis’s presidential ambitions, and urges Republicans to improve their messaging on abortion.

“[DeSantis] had no choice but to support a six-week ban, as that’s the bare minimum of what pro-life activists now expect in states dominated by Republicans…

“After most of the conservative South moved quickly to restrict the practice, women who live in the region turned to DeSantis’ state as the nearest available option to end their pregnancies. A recent study found Florida topping the list of those that saw more abortions performed in the six months after Roe v. Wade was overruled rather than fewer. Letting your state become a abortion mill isn’t helpful for an aspiring Republican presidential nominee, so DeSantis did what he had to do to preserve his viability

“But there’s a reason he did it behind closed doors, with little fanfare. According to polling published in February by the Public Religion Research Institute, 63 percent of Americans oppose six-week bans, and a slight majority of 52 percent oppose 15-week ones. A more recent poll from Reuters/Ipsos asked people whether they agree or disagree with the statement, ‘I am less likely to vote for a politician who supports legislation limiting access to abortion.’ By a 2-to-1 margin, more agreed than disagreed. Even Republicans were more likely to agree than disagree, 43-40.”

Nick Catoggio, The Dispatch

“Trump himself openly blamed pro-lifers for losing 2022, an approach that has many leaders of the movement still wondering if the man who appointed the justices who ended Roe will now abandon them and their cause… [Trump] may be calculating that his core base is more northern and Rust Belt and less churchgoing than the sorts of people already in the DeSantis camp, so he can afford to write off the more religious voters who are most passionate about the pro-life cause…

“But just because those voters aren’t central to the Trump coalition doesn’t mean they have no importance at the margins where races such as this one are won and lost. This is how the issue could play in DeSantis’s favor, but only if he embraces the fight… If handled properly, it could bond to DeSantis through negative partisanship a faction of Republican voters who may be especially crucial in Iowa, South Carolina, and other important early states.”

Dan McLaughlin, National Review

“Pro-life initiatives are politically unpopular right now in part because they lack clear direction and a cohesive strategy to get them across the finish line. Abortion advocates, on the other hand, are very straightforward in their opposition to pro-life policies, framing every single one of them as a blanket ban on abortion, which makes most voters nervous. Republicans need to pick a policy and unapologetically rally behind it…

“Consider, for example, DeSantis’s decision to reopen Florida during the pandemic even when most of the country remained locked down. Few leaders wanted to take this stand because they knew they’d be smeared as callous and reckless — which is exactly what happened to ‘DeathSantis.’…

“Yet he’s since been vindicated by both the scientific establishment and the voters, with major researchers admitting that lockdowns were completely useless and Florida voters turning out in massive numbers to hand DeSantis a sweeping victory in the November midterm elections. This is what leaders are supposed to do: Pick a position — ideally one that is just and advances a common good — and aggressively work to show the public why it’s worth supporting.”

Kaylee McGhee White, Washington Examiner

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