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TALLAHASSEE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) – With the fall of Roe v. Wade sparking a wave of state abortion bans across the country, and rampant ongoing speculation about potential Republican contenders for the presidency in 2024, The New York Times is attempting to stoke doubt about the pro-life convictions of one of the GOP’s most prominent governors, Ron DeSantis of Florida.
On July 12, the Times published an article accusing DeSantis, who signed into law a ban on abortions at 15 weeks in the Sunshine State, of “go[ing] quiet” on more comprehensive protections for the preborn.
By properly interpreting the Constitution, the Supreme Court has answered the prayers of millions upon millions of Americans. pic.twitter.com/CsPFpNnUPk
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 24, 2022
“Mr. DeSantis, a favorite among those Republicans who want to move on from the Trump era, is rarely a reluctant partisan warrior,” the Times wrote. “But his hesitance to detail his plans for abortion policy reflects the new and, in some states, difficult political terrain for Republicans in the post-Roe v. Wade era, as Democrats grasp for advantage on the issue in an otherwise largely hostile midterm election year.”
“When a state representative filed legislation last year seeking a six-week ban, the governor would not support or oppose it,” the article added. ‘“I have a 100 percent pro-life record,’ he said instead.”
During his governorship, DeSantis has established a record as one of the most conservative, proactive, and results-oriented Republicans in the country, leading conservatives to place high hopes on him for every major issue but also making him potentially vulnerable to perceptions that an issue as significant as abortion might be an exception – a perception the Times appears eager to exploit.
LifeSiteNews reached out the governor’s office for a response, and DeSantis spokesperson Bryan Griffin pointed to a previous statement from the office explaining that “future legislative action necessarily depends on the resolution of” legal challenges to the 15-week law, which has been allowed to take effect but still awaits an outcome on its legal merits. “We are in continuous contact with the legislature as this litigation proceeds, and we look forward to future policy plans to defend the unborn.”
“The pending state legal battle must necessarily be resolved before future legislative action can occur,” Griffin explained. “The governor’s office has filed a motion to certify the appeal for immediate resolution by the Florida Supreme Court. This was done because we believe that the Florida Supreme Court previously misinterpreted Florida’s right to privacy as including a right to an abortion, and we reject this interpretation. The Florida Constitution does not include – and has never included – a right to kill an innocent unborn child. We believe HB 5 will ultimately withstand all legal challenges. The struggle for life is not over.”
While Florida pro-life activists want to see more done to stop abortions as soon as possible, they told the Times they continue to recognize DeSantis as an ally and expect him to deliver.
Florida Family Policy Council president John Stemberger predicted a heartbeat-based abortion ban would be taken up in either a special legislative session after the November elections, or during the regular legislative session the following March, because he “think[s DeSantis] realizes this is something that has to be dealt with.”
“There are no concerns or reservations about his pro-life convictions,” Faith & Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed said. “And for that reason, I think he’s going to have running room to make his own decision when it comes to taking the next steps with legislation to protect unborn children.”
Florida Voices for the Unborn executive director Andrew Shirvell was similarly supportive of DeSantis as a “tremendous ally for the pro-life movement,” though he called it “frustrating that the governor doesn’t speak out more about this. But I attribute that to other pressures going on just months before the election. It’s really up to the governor to twist the arms of the legislative leaders if he’s got presidential ambitions.”
DeSantis, who faces reelection in November, has been a largely popular governor, to the point where his leadership has been credited with the growth of Republican voter registration in the Sunshine State. But Florida’s history as a swing state is still relatively recent; though Donald Trump won the state twice, so did Barack Obama in the two previous elections. Florida Republicans may be waiting until their reelections are secure this fall before shedding light on future abortion plans.
Either way, the GOP will have to address the issue eventually; Shirvell warns that the discrepancy between the 15-week ban and stricter laws in neighboring states is turning Florida into an “abortion destination.”