Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) remains vague about his stance on further restricting abortion in the state, but on he recently hinted he would support a six-week abortion ban.
During a Thursday press conference following a special legislative session on Hurricane Ian relief, DeSantis was asked whether he is going to “take the lead” on a “heartbeat bill” in Florida. A heartbeat bill is an abortion ban that takes effect at the six week mark, when usually fetal activity is detected.
“I’m willing to sign great life legislation. That’s what I’ve always said I would do,” DeSantis Without going into detail, he replied.
Florida currently has a 15-week abortion ban in effect, which DeSantis and other Republicans pushed through the legislature earlier this year. What was initially seen as a big accomplishment for abortion opponents in the state is now a reminder that DeSantis hasn’t gone far enough in restricting abortion care since the Supreme Court overturned federal abortion protections this summer.
Over a dozen states have implemented severe restrictions or near-total bans on abortion since Roe v. Wade fell — and many anti-choice groups in Florida want to see similarly extreme legislation enacted in their home state.
“The 15-week abortion ban does not go far enough,” Andrew Shirvell, founder of Florida Voice for the Unborn, told The Sunday Review earlier this month. “We’d like a complete abortion ban in the state of Florida — similar to what Texas and Oklahoma, and several other red states have enacted … We would like Florida to follow her sister red states in completely prohibiting abortion.”
With a Republican supermajority in both chambers and a vocal anti-choice leader in DeSantis, it would be extremely easy to enact harsher abortion restrictions in Florida. But DeSantis’ expected 2024 presidential run is likely the reason for his inaction. On a national level, a six-week or near-total abortion ban may make him too extreme for many voters. But DeSantis will likely face a crowded far-right Republican primary pool, including former President Donald Trump — and he’ll need a more extreme ban on his track record to even compete.
Several Florida Democrats told The Sunday Review earlier this month that they expect DeSantis will definitely support more restrictions, it’s just a matter of when. Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner have said they’d like to further restrict abortion. Passidomo recently mentioned the possibility of a 12-week ban that would include exceptions for rape and incest survivors, which the current 15-week ban does not include.