Florida Democrats call for clarity on governor's plans for abortion access

'We have an election that is coming up,' Rep. Michele Rayner says
Posted at 5:58 PM, Jul 26, 2022

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Democrats said Tuesday that Gov. Ron DeSantis is not giving voters a clear answer on abortion.

During a St. Petersburg news conference, a handful of Democrats called for the Republican leader to clearly say whether he would support further restrictions beyond the new 15-week ban if he is elected to a second term.

Members said it was "a life and death issue.”

"We have an election that is coming up," Rep. Michele Rayner, D-St. Petersburg, said. "He ought to be transparent with folks. He ought to be transparent with the people of Florida and let them know what his plans are. But, this is what he does. He doesn't let folks know. He hides the ball. He dodges questions. He deflects."

The questions come after DeSantis hinted at the possibility in a statement last month following the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

"Florida will continue to defend its recently-enacted pro-life reforms against state court challenges, will work to expand pro-life protections, and will stand for life by promoting adoption, foster care, and child welfare," DeSantis said in a Twitter post.

DeSantis' communications office didn't go any further in an email.

Press Secretary Christina Pushaw said the office didn't have anything to add to the governor's prior statement but added, "we will continue to defend HB 5, and the fight to protect life is far from over."

There's much speculation further restrictions will come up during the next lawmaking session.

Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Orange City, is already promising a bill banning abortion outright. Its success may hinge on support from the GOP majority's new leadership in both chambers.

Incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, is among them. Her communications officials said she was too busy for an interview Tuesday. However, the Republican has campaigned in support of abortion restrictions in the past.

"As a devout Catholic, I am committed to protecting the sanctity of life," she said in a 2016 political ad.

The ongoing legal battle over HB 5's constitutionality could also be a factor. Lawmakers and the governor might wait to see if the state courts strike down the new law as a violation of Florida privacy protections before moving forward.

And there is no clear indication of when the two legal challenges will resolve.

The First District Court of Appeals recently rejected an attempt to fast-track one of the cases to the state supreme court.