Crist promises to protect abortion access through executive order, but there could be a hurdle

By: - May 20, 2022 2:38 pm

U.S. Rep Charlie Crist speaking at a press conference on reproductive healthcare on May 20, 2022. Credit: Screenshot/Charlie Crist Facebook page.

U.S. Rep Charlie Crist, who is running for the Democratic nominee in the 2022 gubernatorial election, said he would use an executive order on of the first day of his term to protect Floridians’ access to abortion.

“When I get elected for governor, I want all women in Florida to understand that if this continues to be the way it is…that I will sign an executive order on Day One that will be clear in protecting and fighting for a woman’s right to choose in the Sunshine State,” he said Friday at an Orlando press conference.

However, the executive order relies on language from the Florida Constitution that protects from “governmental intrusion” into private life.

And the conservative Florida Supreme Court appears to be poised to strike that language. Crist, a former Republican governor, Education Commissioner and Attorney General, did not mention the Florida Supreme Court’s impact in that regard.

Crist read an excerpt from the draft executive order:

“‘Whereas the Florida Constitution expressly establishes a right to privacy under Article 1, Section 23, which states ‘every natural person has the right to be left alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life,’ — That’s it, full stop.”

“It will direct all agencies under the governor’s authority to not interrupt any woman’s right to choose and make her own decisions on her body and her own healthcare,” he continued.

The draft executive order also would prohibit state agencies from cooperating with state or federal agencies “seeking to criminally charge” any individual seeking an abortion in Florida, doctors who perform abortions in Florida, or anyone assisting someone trying to get an abortion.

The draft order also prohibits state agencies from cooperating with law enforcement looking to shut down facilities that perform abortions that are otherwise in good standing with the state.

Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat who also spoke at Crist’s press conference, noted the Florida Supreme Court’s role in upcoming state abortion policies, though she did not discuss what would happen if the Florida Supreme Court chopped the state’s right to privacy language.

“Of course, the (FL) Supreme Court has become more conservative as of late, and we suspect a lawsuit soon to be filed on House Bill 5, which is a 15-week abortion ban,” she said. “And so this Supreme Court has yet to make a decision on abortion, and they will very soon.”

The Thursday press conference is a response to a recent leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, which appears to strike down federal protections for people to access abortions and send the question of abortion policies to the states.

The current Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis have been chipping away abortion access over the past few years.  Should the high court overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized aborition, the GOP-controlled state legislature would have room to restrict abortion access even further, potentially banning it all together.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, also a 2022 gubernatorial candidate, has been criticizing Crist for not being consistent in his pro-abortion access stances over his decades of being involved in Florida politics.

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.