Florida politicians react to Supreme Court draft opinion on abortion rights

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference in Fort Myers Beach on May 3, 2022.jpg
Posted at 9:02 AM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 17:53:33-04

A draft opinion circulated among Supreme Court justices suggests that earlier this year a majority of them had thrown support behind overturning the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.

That's according to a report published Monday night in Politico.

While it's unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter, politicians have flocked to Twitter to share their opinion.

Unsurprisingly, the opinions of Florida politicians are split by party.

Speaking in Fort Myers Beach Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the leak of the draft opinion was "really weird," but also shows just how "out of step" the U.S. is when it comes to abortion regulations.

"We'll see what happens with this opinion. It was really weird that this came out. I don't know what the agenda is behind it," the governor said.

DeSantis, a staunch pro-life advocate, signed into law on April 14 newly passed legislation which bans abortions in the Sunshine State after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The governor on Tuesday criticized other states that have less restrictive abortion policies.

"They will have, one day before a baby is born, allow it to be snuffed out nine months in," DeSantis said. "And I'm just thinking to myself, how is that something that would ever be viewed to be appropriate?"


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talks abortion protections

DeSantis also admitted he expects Florida's controversial 15-week abortion ban to face a state Constitutional and statutory challenge when it goes into effect on July 1.

"There is case law out there that we would have to overcome to be able to sustain those protections," DeSantis said. "I think we can do it, but I do think that's going to be something that is going to happen once the law takes effect."

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted several times Monday night and into Tuesday morning. First, Rubio joined Sen. Rick Scott in taking issue with the draft being leaked. At this point, it is unknown how the draft was leaked.

When Sen. Bernie Sanders suggested the U.S. Senate end the filibuster to vote on abortion rights, Rubio chimed in on Twitter again.

In his own classic fashion, Rubio also tweeted a Bible verse seemingly aimed at abortion.

Rubio's opponent for Florida's Senate seat, Val Demings posted that the "attack on women’s rights is stronger than ever." She also highlighted that the U.S. House of Representatives have already passed a bill to codify Roe v Wade into law.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, tweeted that every life is precious and should be protected, criticizing the Democratic Party by saying it's refusing to accept that.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat who represents Florida's 21st district, said, "if this rumor is true, this is devastating news for our country." She later added that this opinions would "allow politicians to take control over an individual’s reproductive freedom."

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Florida, released the following statement:

"I fought on battlefields to protect the innocent and uphold the Constitution. Abortion does neither.

As a soldier, I’ve seen what true evil looks like. But as a father, I’ve seen pure innocence. There’s no doubt in my mind that every heartbeat of an innocent child is worth protecting.

This decision has the opportunity to protect millions of vulnerable, unborn babies, and it is undoubtedly the right one."

Charlie Crist — who's running for governor as a Democrat against DeSantis in the November election — sought to remind voters that despite labeling himself pro-life in the past, he vetoed an anti-abortion bill when he was a Republican governor.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said, "I’m going to do everything in my power to protect the women of Florida and preserve freedom over our bodies."

House Democrats Tuesday shared concerns during a virtual press conference which was really an appeal to voters ahead of the November election.

The message was simple: if you don't like what is happening, cast a ballot.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Florida's new 15-week abortion ban will take effect on July 1. It cuts current law by nine weeks and makes no exception for rape, incest, and human trafficking.

"Abortion is health care. Abortion is health care. Abortion is health care," said State Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton.

House Democrats Tuesday warned women will suffer under new provisions, especially minorities and those with lower incomes.

"We will not go back to wire hangers. We will not go back to women dying in back ally abortions," said State Rep. Robin Bartleman, D-Weston.

The law is likely to face court challenges under Florida's broad privacy protections, but these lawmakers are uncertain how a conservative-leaning state Supreme Court will rule.

Voters, they said, are the backstop.

"We have to ensure that those who pursue this anti-abortion agenda feel the consequences of stripping away our rights," said State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.

DeSantis and the GOP majority haven't been shy about tackling abortion this year, despite the upcoming election.

In fact, opponents fear DeSantis will go for a total ban during this month's special session on property insurance, expanding the focus to include a trigger law, effective only if Roe goes.

"If you look at the protections I signed into law a couple of weeks ago, those were the strongest Florida has seen in decades," DeSantis said.

The governor declined to offer an opinion on a total ban bill during a Tuesday afternoon press conference, only continuing to voice support for the 15-week policy he signed last month and condemning the recent SCOTUS leak.

"They need to figure out who did that and they need to hold them accountable because that is a real significant breach of trust. You want to talk about insurrection, this is judicial insurrection," DeSantis said.

Even so, high-ranking Republicans are seeking total abortion prohibition.

State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, is among them, saying last month her goal is to save as many unborn as possible.

"Obviously, hopefully in the future, we’ll have, there will be no abortions. Those babies will be wanted no matter when they’re conceived," Stargel said.

What comes next isn't clear and largely hinges on what happens at the high court in Washington, D.C.

If justices rule against Roe, Florida's abortion law may look very different than it does today.

The ACLU has already said they plan to file a lawsuit challenging Florida's new 15-week ban. Democratic lawmakers said to expect that filing in the next few weeks.