ReleasedJanuary 20th|updatedJanuary 20th
TALLAHASSEE — Of all the places reproductive rights advocates have gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to the Florida capital — and home of Governor Ron DeSantis — on Sunday to explore an issue that even supporters of the conservative culture warrior say could be a vulnerability.
Harris "will deliver an important speech" and will speak about "what's at stake for millions of women across the country and, more importantly, the need for Congress to pass spawn protection legislation," according to the White House.spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday.
Event organizers Ruth's List Florida and Planned Parenthood of Florida are inviting supporters across the state as the fight for abortion access shifts to subsequent states.the judgment of the Supreme Court of the United Statesin Dobbs v. The Jackson Women's Health Organization overturned nearly 50 years of legal precedent.
"Florida is one of those ground zero states, and Tallahassee is taking them to DeSantis," the state said. Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton. "The governor is literally on the wrong side of the electorate."
As a potential candidate for the Republican Party's nomination for president in In 2024, DeSantis' stance on the hot topic has brought him under attack from all sides. The loophole underscores his dilemma:most of the publicdoesn't want stricter abortion laws, but her conservative supporters are calling for them.
Laura Goodhue,Executive Director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, Harris said he chose Florida for two reasons: "The White House is signaling that the fight is now on America, and we are not going to sit back and let people lose access to care and this public crisis."
And because Florida borders two states with stricter abortion laws, Planned Parenthood facilities “have seen a fourfold increase. Out-of-state patients seeking abortion treatment.
Anti-abortion advocates say Harris is here for a reason
The choice of Florida as the location for the vice president's visit has not gone unnoticed by abortion advocates, including those who have openly criticized DeSantis and Florida lawmakers for not doing more to restrict abortion in the state.
"I think the governor should be ashamed that she's coming to his state to rally the troops and they're looking at this dark red state like a firewall," said Andrew Shirvell, founder and executive director of the Florida Voice for the Unborn, a anti-abortion grassroots group.
"If she really wants to stand up to those deep red states that have totally banned abortion, she would be in Austin or Oklahoma City or Little Rock, but she's not. She's here in Tallahassee," Shirvell said. "I think it's because her supporter base feels that with DeSantis and the Republican legislature, that's the one weak issue that they've repeatedly shown they won't address."
DeSantis came in last weekunder fire from Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem,another potential 2024 candidate who called him her chief of staff in an interview on CBS Newsaccused DeSantis of "hiding behind a 15-week ban' while South Dakota prohibits all abortion unless it endangers the pregnant woman's life.
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John Stemberger, president of the anti-abortion group Florida Family Action, said Harris' visit had "a lot more to do with politics than abortion."
“From over 19,000 cities across the United States, she comes to the only city where America's favorite governor lives to basically act out a political statement,” he said. “The governor is not just a head of state. He is also a national leader who poses a current and future threat to the Biden-Harris administration and its radical agenda.”
In December, DeSantis said he was "ready to sign the Great Living Legislation" when asked if he would support a six-week abortion ban during the next Florida legislature. But he never broached the subject in his inaugural speech, nor at various events with supporters since.
DeSanti's silence did not go unnoticed.
Shirvell said that kind of response would not help DeSantis when he "has ambitions to defeat pro-life governors in other states".
"'Big Life Legislation? I mean, what is it?'' he joked, quoting the governor. "This is a crisis situation. It is very disappointing that our pro-life governor and our pro-life legislature are completely indifferent. I mean, they seem to be talking more about saving on gas stoves than they are about all the unborn children."
With DeSantis and Republican allies in the Legislature remaining silent amid criticism from the right, Democrats are poised to strike.
"One thing's for sure, we can expect another restriction on abortion because that's what the governor wants," said Rep. Fentrice Driskell of Tampa, the Democratic speaker of the house.
If Dobbs' decision galvanized pro-choice advocates, the midterm elections appeared to dampen that enthusiasm. In the six states that placeabortion-related initiativesIn the poll, voters in each of them preferred broader access to abortion, she said. "This is not what Florida residents want. It would be the governor imposing his will and beliefs on the people of Florida."
a nationalResearch from the University of South Florida and Florida International Universityfound that most Floridians disapproved of Dobbs' decision, but there is little consensus on what Florida should do next when it comes to abortion policy.
Florida's Republican lawmakers still haven't acted
When questioned, Florida's Republican lawmakers continue to commit to stricter abortion laws but are reluctant to put anything in writing.
"The timing of this has yet to be determined," R-Palm Coast Mayor Paul Renner told reporters on Thursday. "We haven't concluded any of this. We continue to speak with our members. We have a pro-life majority. … We have a lot of dialogue today, but nothing to announce."
Since the election gave Republicans a supermajority in both the House and Senate and the Governor scored a 19-point re-election victory, rumors have been circulating that they have votes to seek stricter limits on abortion and are calling a special session before that. would have happened. regular meeting in March to deal with the matter.
But DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin said last week that the governor will decide to convene a special session on abortion "after we see what happens in the regular session."
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Republican from Naples, said she could support increasing abortion restrictions but only wanted to weaken the ban.12 weeks and include exceptionsfor rape, incest and the mother's life, which do not exist under current law.
Democrats await legislation
Skidmore said he is awaiting a bill that expands abortion restrictions. Republicans reluctant to support her will justify it by including exceptions for rape and incest because "the governor will demand it, but not because he cares about abortion," she said.
Shirvell accused DeSantis and the Republican-led legislature of "hiding" behind a pending lawsuit in the Florida Supreme Court as their "excuse" for not passing more abortion restrictions when they met in a special session last year. Abortion advocates argue that the 15-week ban violates the privacy clause of the Florida constitution. A verdict is expected in July.
And while no bill was drafted to enforce prohibition, DeSantis used his executive powers to put pressure on abortion rights advocates.
His supporters point out that he fired Tampa District Attorney Andrew Warren last year for threatening not to enforce Florida's 15-week ban, and last week after the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a rule allowing until retail pharmacies offered abortion pills in the US, state regulators warned pharmacies that two state laws make it illegal in Florida.
Representative Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, who held a rally in Orlando from Sunday through Saturday to accommodate supporters who wanted to attend the vice president's event, said as she gathered supporters in the capital, activists "bring the head of the fight in front of the governor door. "
"DeSantis has to answer the question of what he's going to do in this session," she said. "You have people like Sprecher Renner and others avoiding the question or giving vapid answers, and at the end of the day, we know that DeSantis is an anti-abortion extremist and that compels him to speak out."
This will be the second time Harris has come to Florida to discuss abortion rights in less than a year. Last July, she held aRound table with parliamentarians from the Democratic States in Orlando.Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson will join Harris at the rally.