Biden to Condemn Florida's 6-Week Abortion Ban, Focusing on Upcoming Election

President Biden visits Florida to rally against abortion restrictions, including an upcoming six-week ban and a ballot measure to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. Advocates emphasize the nonpartisan nature of the issue, as voters may support abortion access while backing GOP candidates. The ballot initiative has strong support, with 35% of signatures coming from Republicans or non-affiliated voters. While in Florida, Biden will criticize Trump's stance on abortion, which Trump supported while appointing Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade. Despite Republicans dismissing the Democrats' focus on abortion as irrelevant to voters' concerns, abortion-rights supporters have seen success in elections where the issue is on the ballot.

PTI | Tampa | Updated: 24-04-2024 00:36 IST | Created: 24-04-2024 00:36 IST
Biden to Condemn Florida's 6-Week Abortion Ban, Focusing on Upcoming Election
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President Joe Biden is wading deeper into the fight over abortion rights that has energised Democrats since the fall of Roe v. Wade, travelling to Florida to assail the state's upcoming ban and similar restrictions that have imperiled access to care for pregnant women nationwide.

Tuesday's campaign visit to Tampa puts Biden in the epicentre of the latest battle over abortion restrictions. The state's six-week abortion ban is poised to go into effect May 1 at the same time that Florida voters are gearing up for a ballot measure that would enshrine abortion rights in the state's constitution.

Biden is seeking to capitalise on the unceasing momentum against abortion restrictions nationwide to not only buoy his reelection bid in battleground states he won in 2020, but also to go on the offensive against Donald Trump in states that the presumptive Republican nominee won four years ago. One of those states is Florida, where Biden lost by 3.3 percentage points to Trump.

At the same time, advocates on the ground say support for abortion access cuts across parties. They're intent on making the issue as nonpartisan as possible as they work to scrounge up at least 60 per cent support from voters for the ballot initiative.

That could mean in some cases, Florida voters would split their tickets, backing GOP candidates while supporting the abortion measure.

"I think that normal people are aware that a candidate campaign is really different than a ballot initiative," said Lauren Brenzel, campaign director for Floridians Protecting Freedom, which gathered signatures to put the abortion question before voters. "You can vote for your preferred candidate of any political party and still not agree with them on every single issue.'' Brenzel continued, "This gives voters an opportunity to have their message heard on one policy platform." On the same day the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the ballot measure could go before voters, it also upheld the state's 15-week abortion ban. That subsequently cleared the way for the new ban on the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, which is often before women know they are pregnant, to go into effect next week.

Organisers of the abortion ballot measure say they collected nearly 1.5 million signatures to put the issue before voters, although the state stopped counting at just under a million. Roughly 891,500 signatures were required. Of the total number of signatures, about 35 per cent were from either registered Republican voters or those not affiliated with a party, organisers said.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat, said if the abortion ballot initiative becomes branded as a partisan effort, "it just makes it more challenging to reach 60 per cent".

Eskamani, who worked at Planned Parenthood before running for political office, said she is encouraging the Biden administration to focus broadly on the impact of a six-week ban and let the ballot measure speak for itself.

"At the end of the day, the ballot initiative is going to be a multimillion-dollar campaign that stands very strongly on its own," Eskamani said.

While in Florida, Biden is sure to go on the attack against his general election challenger, who has said abortion is a matter for states to decide.

Trump's campaign did not respond to a question on whether the former president, a Florida voter, would oppose or support the ballot measure. In an NBC interview last September, Trump called Florida's six-week ban "terrible." But he has repeatedly highlighted the justices he tapped for the US Supreme Court who, through the 2022 ruling that ended a constitutional right to an abortion, cleared the way for such restrictions to be written.

Trump and other Republicans are aware that voter backlash against newfound abortion restrictions could be a serious liability this fall.

Abortion-rights supporters have won every time the issue has been put before voters, including in solidly conservative states such as Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio. Last month, a Democrat in a suburban state House district in Alabama flipped the seat from Republican control by campaigning on abortion rights, weeks after in vitro fertilisation services had been paused in the state.

Nikki Fried, the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, said Florida will be a competitive state on the presidential level "because of the extremism that has come out of Florida".

There are no Democrats in a statewide elected position and no Democrat has won the state on the presidential level since 2012, but state party officials have found some glimmers of political change in vastly smaller races, such as the open Jacksonville mayor's race last May that saw a Democrat win in what was once a solidly Republican city.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said at a news conference before the visit that the abortion amendment was written in a way to deliberately mislead voters, an argument that the state Supreme Court disagreed with when it approved the ballot language.

"All I can tell you is Floridians are not buying what Joe Biden is selling and in November we're going to play an instrumental role in sending him back to Delaware where he belongs,'' he said.

Alongside the abortion initiative, Floridians will also vote on a ballot measure on whether to legalise recreational marijuana later this fall that could also juice turnout and enthusiasm in favour of Democrats.

Republicans were dismissive of the Biden campaign and the broader Democratic Party's efforts to use abortion as a political cudgel, arguing that other issues will matter more with voters in November.

"Floridians' top issues are immigration, the economy and inflation; in all three areas Joe Biden has failed," said Evan Power, the chairman of the state Republican Party. "Instead of coming to talk to Floridians about manufactured issues, he should get to work solving the real issues that he has failed to lead on."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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