Florida Governor Ron DeSantis under scrutiny for avoiding discussion of his six-week abortion ban

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been under scrutiny for his reluctance to discuss his stringent abortion ban, despite it being one of his signature legislative achievements. DeSantis barely mentioned the six-week abortion ban during his keynote speech at the Florida Family Policy Council’s annual dinner, a major advocate for the ban.[0] Some Republicans worry that DeSantis has gone too far to the right on an issue that could hurt them in the general election.[1] The debate over abortion access is quickly shaping the Republican presidential primary, with DeSantis and Donald Trump running away from each other on the issue.[2] DeSantis is looking to appeal to the influential evangelical Christian base in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, while Trump has criticized DeSantis’ six-week ban as “too harsh” in a recent interview, which the Florida governor quickly refuted.[2]

DeSantis may be avoiding the topic too much because while it may be a winning topic in a Republican primary, it can be divisive in a general election as some voters are expressing concern at Republican efforts to severely restrict access to abortion care.[2] DeSantis has distinguished himself from his opponent Donald Trump by bringing up the topic of abortion, specifically pointing out Trump’s disapproval of Florida’s ban on the practice.[3] In an interview last week with online news outlet The Messenger, the former president said that “many people within the pro-life movement feel” that the Florida law is “too harsh.” Still, DeSantis’ reluctance to expand on the topic was the latest sign of the tightrope he is walking on abortion — eager to make inroads with conservatives in the GOP primary, but wary of alienating moderates for whom abortion access has become a major concern.[3]

During a speech on Monday night, DeSantis defended the six-week law as “the right thing to do” and intended “to protect an unborn child that has a detectable heartbeat,” referring to the time in a pregnancy when an embryo has cardiac activity.[4] DeSantis said that while there are ways that the federal government can be helpful to preserve life, the best way that you will preserve life is at the state level.[5]

DeSantis has also been criticized for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. During a speech at the gala for the most prominent anti-abortion group in his state, DeSantis did not acknowledge the more-than 1.1 million Americans who have actually died from Covid, a number that would have undoubtedly been far greater if preventative measures weren’t put into place.[6] Although DeSantis argued that Florida’s anti-lockdown measures effectively fought against Covid, the state had significantly higher Covid death rates than other parts of the country.[6]

The Florida governor has also been throwing jabs at Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who has released an attack ad knocking DeSantis as an off-brand imitator of his own style and policies. The notion that the Florida governor isn’t doing much remains unaddressed.[7] In a separate appearance on “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show,” DeSantis said he would consider pardoning Jan. 6 defendants.[7] DeSantis stated that it would be handled individually for each case.[6]

0. “Ron DeSantis Doesn’t Want to Talk About Abortion, Even to Anti-Abortion Activists – Mother Jones” Mother Jones, 21 May. 2023, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/05/ron-desantis-abortion-ban-activists-trump-lips-sealed/

1. “DeSantis keeps abortion comments brief at antiabortion group’s gala” The Washington Post, 22 May. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/05/21/desantis-abortion-ffpc-gala

2. “DeSantis largely avoids abortion at anti-abortion group’s gala” POLITICO, 21 May. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/05/20/ron-desantis-abortion-group-gala-00098038

3. “DeSantis Barely Mentions Abortion at Anti-Choice Event” Yahoo News Canada, 21 May. 2023, https://ca.news.yahoo.com/desantis-barely-mentions-abortion-anti-180242354.html

4. “‘The Right Thing To Do’: DeSantis Defends Six-Week Abortion Ban After Trump Calling It ‘Too Harsh’” News Talk Florida, 24 May. 2023, https://www.newstalkflorida.com/featured/the-right-thing-to-do-desantis-defends-six-week-abortion-ban-after-trump-calling-it-too-harsh

5. “DeSantis campaign says Biden’s age and recession will outweigh abortion” Business Insider, 27 May. 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/desantis-campaign-says-bidens-age-and-recession-will-outweigh-abortion-2023-5

6. “DeSantis Attacks Trump: He ‘Destroyed Millions of Lives’” Yahoo Entertainment, 25 May. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/desantis-attacks-trump-destroyed-millions-195647723.html

7. “DeSantis Attacks Trump: He ‘Destroyed Millions of Lives’” Rolling Stone, 25 May. 2023, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/desantis-attacks-trump-covid-19-response-1234742399/

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