Florida court hearing spotlights DeSantis’ dance on abortion: ANALYSIS

On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a suit challenging the state's 15-week abortion ban.

While the case has implications for reproductive rights in the state, it is also tied to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' record on an issue that is deeply important to many in the Republican Party but which is polarizing on the national stage, polling shows — as DeSantis seeks to first win over his party's base and then the 2024 electorate.

Of the seven state Supreme Court justices who are taking up the suit against the abortion ban, five were appointed by DeSantis.

Over the past few months, DeSantis, who as governor signed both the 15-week and a six-week abortion ban into state law, has walked a fine line as a candidate on the issue of abortion access, declining to say definitively if he would support a national abortion ban but often adding that he would promote a "culture of life" if elected president. His spokespeople did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment for this story.

MORE: New data shows increase in abortions in states near bans compared to 2020 data

Republican candidate for president Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during the Republican Party of Iowa 2023 Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center, July 28, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.Rebecca S. Gratz for The Washington Post via Getty Images, FILE

Over the summer, DeSantis was blasted by one of the most prominent anti-abortion advocacy groups in the country, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, for not publicly supporting more substantial national limitations on abortion while on the trail. He said in response, in part, that he had "actually delivered pro-life protections."

At the first Republican presidential primary debate, held in August, he said that he would "stand on the side of life" but indicated he would rather have states make their own laws surrounding abortion.

"I understand Iowa and New Hampshire are going to do [things] different, but I will support the cause of life as governor and as president," DeSantis said.

That position likely reflects the complicated politics around the issue. Following the U.S. Supreme Court overruling Roe v. Wade in 2022 — a move welcomed by Republicans — the question of abortion rights was returned to each state and while some local officials pursued sweeping restrictions, in other states, voters have weighed in directly via ballot measures.

During the 2022 midterms, voters in California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont — in both deep blue and deep red areas of the country — resolutely protected access to abortion. What's more, exit polling in some battlegrounds, like Michigan, showed abortion was a top issue.

The Florida Supreme Court building is pictured on Nov. 10, 2018 in Tallahassee, Fla.Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images, FILE

In December, a little over a month after his resounding reelection victory, DeSantis said he would be willing to sign a six-week abortion ban and then did so four months later.

But that move was made with little fanfare; instead, his office released a statement about an hour before midnight announcing that he had signed the bill into law, along with a photo of him signing the law flanked by supporters of the legislation.

By contrast, a year earlier, when DeSantis signed the 15-week ban, he gave remarks that were live-streamed during the day.

Republican presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign stop in Manchester, N. H., Aug. 19, 2023.Brian Snyder/Reuters, FILE

As the campaign cycle continues on, Matt Terrill, former GOP adviser and managing partner for Firehouse Strategies, a political consulting firm, told ABC News that he believes Republican primary voters are going to be looking at both a candidate's rhetoric and record but that other issues will come into play as voting gets closer.

"[Abortion] is going to be an issue that voters are certainly going to be focused on in these primaries and the caucuses coming up, but there'll be other issues taking shape here as well, such as the economy, inflation and other issues taking hold," Terrill said. "So, while this is an issue that voters very much care about, time will tell in terms of how much of a focus or how much of a spotlight this will have."

Sourse: abcnews.go.com

No votes yet.
Please wait...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *