DeSantis skipped talking about his 6-week abortion ban to an anti-abortion audience
On Thursday night, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a six-week abortion ban inside his state.
On Friday morning, he barely mentioned it 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.
During DeSantis’ 20-minute speech at the evangelical university he only had this to say about abortion: “We have elevated the importance of family and promoted the culture of life.”
The politics surrounding abortion have become a major issue recently after a federal judge in Texas suspended the FDA’s approval of the abortion drug mifepristone. A federal appeals court ruled this week that it can remain on the market but with availability restricted.
As a further sign of the difficult spot Republicans are in, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who announced a presidential exploratory committee on Wednesday, avoided questions on whether he’d support a federal abortion ban but later clarified that he’d support some sort of federal restriction and would sign a 20-week abortion ban if he were president.
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.
Florida’s GOP-controlled Legislature on Thursday passed a six-week ban on abortion that provides exceptions for victims of rape and incest up to 15 weeks if they can show some proof such as a police report. But almost 10 Florida Republican lawmakers rejected the ban, many of them representing Democratic areas like Miami or Tallahassee.
DeSantis’ signing of the bill late Thursday night also marked a stark difference from 2022, when he also approved Florida’s 15-week ban on abortion. DeSantis approved the 2022 law during a public event at a church with dozens of people and a large video screen showing the message “Florida is Pro Life.”
On Friday at Liberty University during DeSantis’ event, the most explicit mention of Florida’s six-week ban came from campus pastor Jonathan Falwell, who praised the governor while introducing him to the audience.
“Last night, after the legislature there in Florida passed the bill, [DeSantis] signed the heartbeat Protection Act,” Falwell said to cheers. “And as he signed that into the law at a state of Florida, it will protect all unborn babies because he recognizes that life is a gift.”
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