Florida Supreme Court puts abortion on the ballot – and hands Trump a serious problem


In the end, Ron “DeSanctimonious” DeSantis may get his revenge on Donald Trump – just not in the way he expected.

The Florida governor’s draconian six-week abortion ban – which he pushed as part of his presidential run, thinking he could out-extreme Trump and the other GOP candidates – got the green light from the Florida Supreme Court on Monday. It will go into effect in 30 days, with the state’s previous 15-week abortion ban kicking in until then.

That’s horrific, but the state’s high court also ruled that an amendment protecting abortion rights will be on the Florida ballot in November, giving voters a chance to strike down DeSantis’ ban and, if past elections are any evidence, driving voter turnout considerably.

In 2019, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis welcomes President Donald Trump to West Palm Beach.

In 2019, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis welcomes President Donald Trump to West Palm Beach.

DeSantis and Florida’s Supreme Court lend Biden a hand

You can parse these Sunshine State developments any way you like, but there’s no version that’s good for Trump, the Republican presidential nominee in waiting.

He has previously described DeSantis’ six-week ban as “terrible,” knowing how unpopular it is with voters. So now, in his home state, Trump will face three not-good-for-him-but-great-for-Joe-Biden choices:

  • Embrace the six-week ban he pilloried and tell his supporters to oppose the abortion-rights protection amendment.

  • Maintain his opposition to the six-week ban and support the abortion-rights protection amendment, something he can’t do without alienating evangelical voters.

  • Say that when he becomes president, he’ll override the six-week state ban with a federal abortion ban at 15 or 16 weeks, which would be a gift to President Biden’s reelection campaign.

Oh, Ron. If only you had planned this as a way of getting back at the guy who dubbed you “Ron DeSanctimonious,” people might think you’re crafty.

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A six-week abortion ban in Florida is basically a complete abortion ban

In Monday’s rulings, Florida’s conservative Supreme Court decided that the state’s constitution doesn’t protect abortion rights. That put Florida’s existing 15-week abortion ban back in place.

The six-week ban that DeSantis signed into law last April was designed to start 30 days after a Supreme Court ruling upholding the 15-week ban. So the clock on that starts now.

For Floridians, a six-week ban is essentially a complete ban on abortion, as most people don’t even know they’re pregnant before six weeks. It will also further limit abortion access in the South.

Lauren Brenzel, the campaign director for Floridians Protecting Freedom, which fought to get the abortion amendment on the state’s 2024 ballot, told The Washington Post: “There is nowhere in the Southeast that can absorb Florida’s patient base. It’s simply not possible. That is simply an unmanageable volume of patients to try to offset to another state.”

Why doesn’t Biden sell Bibles? Joe Biden hasn’t targeted a judge’s daughter or sold a single Bible. What a LOSER!

Trump is going to struggle to reckon with this Florida ballot issue

The real-world consequences of DeSantis’ ban will be felt long before the November election, and it will not be an issue Trump can sidestep.

Women in his state will have fully lost abortion rights, first thanks to Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court picks helping overturn Roe v. Wade and then thanks to DeSantis’ abortion ban, which was upheld by the conservatives he put on the state’s supreme court.

Former President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd after speaking at a campaign event in Rome, Georgia, on March 9, 2024.

Former President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd after speaking at a campaign event in Rome, Georgia, on March 9, 2024.

Trump has tried ineffectively to straddle this issue, taking credit for Roe getting overturned then criticizing DeSantis’ state ban, all while mumbling nonspecifically that “deals are going to be made” when it comes to a national abortion ban.

At a CNN town hall last may, Trump was asked whether he would sign a 15-week federal abortion ban and he wouldn’t answer, saying only: “What I’ll do is negotiate, so that people are happy.”

Good luck with that, bubba.

Recent Fox News poll shows widespread support for abortion access

To summarize voters’ views on the issue, I’ll quote from this Fox News report published last week: “Nearly two years after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a record number of voters think abortion should be legal, with two-thirds favoring nationwide law guaranteeing access, according to a Fox News national survey.”

That Truth Social stock: Thinking about buying Truth Social stock? Trump’s own filing offers these warnings.

That’s “guaranteeing” access, not banning it.

The poll found 59% of voters think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. And 54% oppose a 15-week federal abortion ban, with far more opposing more restrictive legislation.

Biden will still have an uphill fight in Florida, but this changes outlook

Since Roe was overturned, this has been a losing issue for Republicans. Trump knows that, but he can’t figure out how to dance around it the way he does most things.

Thanks to the actions of DeSantis, the GOP primary opponent Trump vanquished and humiliated, that dance just got orders of magnitude more complicated.

And Florida – the seemingly bright-red state that features Mar-a-Lago and Trump himself – just got a whole lot more interesting.

Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on X, formerly Twitter, @RexHuppke and Facebook facebook.com/RexIsAJerk

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Abortion is on Florida ballot. State’s 6 week ban may hurt Trump, too





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