Gov. Ron DeSantis ‘Absolutely Not’ in Favor of Criminalizing Women Who Obtain Abortions

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida’s abortion ban applies to medical practitioners who perform abortions.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sept. 13 vowed not to support criminalizing women who receive abortions in his state.

The Republican, who is running in the 2024 presidential nomination race, made the comments in an interview with CBS News.

“We have no criminal penalty,” said Mr. DeSantis, who signed a Florida law in April to ban abortions after six weeks. “The penalties are for the physician,” he added.

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Florida’s six-week abortion ban is not currently in effect as legal challenges play out in court against a longer 15-week ban that is being challenged by Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and others.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 300 or the Heartbeat Protection Act, prohibits physicians from “knowingly performing or inducing a termination of pregnancy after the gestational age of the fetus is determined to be more than 6 weeks, rather than 15 weeks.”

However, the bill also states that “any person who willfully performs or actively participates in a termination of pregnancy” may also face third-degree felony charges.

DeSantis Defends Ban

The legislation does include exceptions for cases where the abortion is “necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life or avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition.” In those cases, a written determination must be made by two physicians if possible, or one physician when another physician is not available for consultation.

Women are also exempt from the ban if their pregnancy has not yet reached the third trimester and the unborn child has a “fatal fetal abnormality.” This must also be certified in writing by two physicians, according to the legislation.

A pro-abortion protester holds a sign as she demonstrates in Miami after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. (Marco Bello/Reuters)
A pro-abortion protester holds a sign as she demonstrates in Miami after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Despite the wording, Mr. DeSantis insisted Wednesday that the bill text is not aimed at women and only the physicians or abortion providers.

“That is not for the women,” he said, to which CBS interviewer Norah O’Donnell responded, “Is a woman not actively participating in the termination of her pregnancy?”

“No,” Mr. DeSantis responded. “Because she’s not a medical practitioner.”

The Republican stressed that he is “absolutely not” in favor of “criminalizing women” and that it “will not happen in Florida.”

Mr. DeSantis, however, still stressed that he has and will continue to support pro-life policies if he becomes president of the United States.

Still, he acknowledged that Florida’s abortion rates are rising amid stricter laws on abortion in nearby states.

“The issue with Florida is that the southeastern states have very very strong pro-life laws, Florida is litigating under a 15-week, and so we have become, against our wishes, a destination,” he said, adding that the state’s Heartbeat Protection Act, if the courts allow it to go into effect, would likely put an end to what he called “abortion tourism.”

“We don’t want to be an abortion tourism destination,” he said.

State Supreme Court Considers Law

Mr. DeSantis’ comments come as the Florida Supreme Court continues to consider the state’s 15-week ban on abortion, which was signed into law by the governor in 2022.

Opponents of the measure have centered their arguments on a provision in the Florida Constitution that protects the right to privacy.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives a press conference in Steinhatchee, Fla., on Aug. 31, 2023. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives a press conference in Steinhatchee, Fla., on Aug. 31, 2023. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The court last week heard oral arguments regarding that ban, which will determine whether the six-week ban goes into effect.

During the hearing, Planned Parenthood vowed to continue to fight for abortion access “through all possible avenues.”

The people of Florida have “said over and over that their right to control their own bodies and make their own health care decisions should remain a protected right in the Florida constitution,” Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, told the court, according to the ACLU.

“Moreover, the Florida Supreme Court must respect the decades of precedent that make this law clearly unconstitutional. Floridians understand that this ban is a gross overreach into their lives, and they will not stand for it,” Ms. Fraim added.

Elsewhere, Whitney White, staff attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said the Florida Supreme Court should “respect the rule of law and protect the right of people to make personal medical decisions during pregnancy for themselves.”

However, the state Supreme Court justices questioned the privacy provision, with Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz telling plaintiffs during the Sept. 8 hearing that “in a legal sense, privacy may have included abortion, but it doesn’t seem like the people of Florida really had an actual debate over this when it was adopted,” The Washington Post reported.

The Florida Supreme Court has not revealed a timeline for a ruling on the matter.

Mr. DeSantis’ Republican presidential rivals Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and former Vice President Mike Pence have both expressed support for a national 15-week abortion ban.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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