A Critical Analysis of DeSantis’ Approach to Abortion Politics

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Ron DeSantis, the current governor of Florida, has been pushing the legislative Front to restrict access to abortion procedures and pass the 15-week ban last year, without exception for rape or incest. The Republican-led state legislature is going one step further and passing a six-week ban, which DeSantis has signaled he will sign when it is presented to him. This ban would allow abortion to be performed up to 15 weeks in order to save a woman’s life or in cases of rape or incest, with an incredibly strict set of criteria as far as proof is needed. Passers-by may feel this gives more “protection of abortion rights,” but this is not the case as at six weeks, most women don’t even know they’re pregnant. In this highly contested area of reproductive rights, one state may act as a domino effect for those around it, and Florida can be seen as a safe haven for those in states with so-called “heartbeat laws” — such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

This situation creates much uncertainty for years to come. DeSantis’ support for the six-week ban is seen as a way to boost his credentials as a conservative, though as voters have shown, this only serves to mobilize them into protecting women’s reproductive rights. This was shown most recently in Wisconsin, where a liberal candidate ran on keeping an 1849 abortion ban overturned last year. This was opposed by 75% of voters, with the majority being Republicans.

Florida also allows ballot initiatives to be presented to the public, meaning citizen-led groups are exploring the possibility of getting abortion on the ballot in 2024. Though 64% of Floridian’s want it to remain legal in most or all cases, this conservative push creates an uphill battle. Additionally, it has been noted that the kind of electable Republican this movement creates could be more damaging than electable — particularly for the large majority of suburban women who make up a quarter of the voters.

Ron DeSantis is wrong in thinking that these strict laws will stand. Rather, they have the potential to backfire due to the uncertainty and mobilization they cause. It is important for DeSantis to take these matters into account to help with his political chances.