Even before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade precedent, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida’s Republican-led legislature approved a 15-week abortion ban. After the GOP-appointed justices issued their ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the ambitious governor suggested that his first abortion ban wouldn’t be his last.
In a vow published via social media, DeSantis promised in June that he would “work to expand pro-life protections.”
What did that mean in practical terms? No one had any idea, and DeSantis — facing a re-election campaign in a state with the nation’s third-highest abortion rate — refused to tell voters what he planned to do on the issue if given a second term.
The result was a bizarre campaign dynamic: A Republican governor briefly assured voters he’d take additional steps on reproductive rights, but when pressed, he spent months ignoring questions on the matter. DeSantis effectively told Floridians, “Just vote for me again, and I’ll tackle the issue in ways I prefer to keep secret.”
The Sunshine State’s electorate didn’t much care; the incumbent won in a landslide. And wouldn’t you know it, the governor who didn’t want to talk about abortion bans in the run-up to Election Day is suddenly feeling less reticent. The Orlando Sentinel reported:
DeSantis said he would sign more anti-abortion legislation when asked if he supported a “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortion at about six weeks of pregnancy. “I’m willing to sign great life legislation. That’s what I’ve always said I would do,” DeSantis said.
He’ll have eager partners in the legislature. The Miami Herald reported in the aftermath of the midterm elections: “Supercharged by a supermajority in the House and Senate, Florida legislative leaders broke their silence Wednesday and confirmed they are prepared to discuss further abortion restrictions in Florida in the next year.”
In case this weren’t quite enough, yesterday DeSantis also reiterated his support for “constitutional carry” legislation, which as The Palm Beach Post noted, would allow Floridians to carry guns in public without a concealed weapons permit. After endorsing the measure anew, the governor turned to state House Speaker Paul Renner and asked, “Are you guys gonna do it?”
The GOP legislative leader replied, “Yes.”
All of this will very likely help DeSantis appeal to far-right voters ahead of a possible 2024 presidential campaign. It will also position the Republican governor far from what the American mainstream supports on some of the nation’s most contentious social issues.