State lawmakers, activists warn that DeSantis plans to ban abortions after November election

By: - August 17, 2022 7:00 am

Lauren Brenzel with Planned Parenthood speaks at the Florida Historic Capitol building following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned abortion protections under Roe v. Wade. June 24, 2022. Credit: Danielle J. Brown

A week from the August primary election, Democratic lawmakers are warning that Gov. Ron DeSantis will further restrict access to abortion care, an issue that Florida voters may consider when casting their ballots.

Although the Republican governor hasn’t publicly stated plans to expand on the current 15-week abortion ban in Florida, state Sen. Randolph Bracy on Tuesday told reporters during a press conference in Orlando that DeSantis will take action on a complete ban on abortions in the state.

State Sen. Randolph Bracy, an Orlando Democrat. Credit: Colin Hackley

“He (DeSantis) is planning to call a special session in November, that is what he has signaled,” said Bracy, a Democrat representing part of Orange County. “And he is signaling that he will institute an all-out ban on abortions here in our state.”

“When I first heard this, I knew we had to find a way to help the millions of women, people who would no longer have access to the health care that they need.”

The Florida Phoenix has yet to receive a response from DeSantis’ office about whether he plans to call for a special session in November. And communication staffers at the Florida House and Senate have yet to respond to a request for comment about any session on abortion.

Keep in mind that DeSantis may not win in the general election in November. Democratic gubernatorial candidates Nikki Fried or Charlie Crist could win in the 2022 governor’s race.

Bracy is a candidate in a U.S. House race, an aide from his office confirmed with the Phoenix in an email. He is hoping to fill U.S. Rep. Val Demings’ seat in the Orlando area. Demings is running for a Florida seat in the U.S. Senate race, against Sen. Marco Rubio. Demings and Bracy have primary opponents.

During the press event, Bracy said he plans to partner with organizations to raise funds for women to travel to other states to gain access to abortion services. “I am planning on fighting for the right to choose,” Bracy said.

“I was inspired by many of the organizations nationally that are helping women in states with abortion bans travel to receive the health care that they need,” he said, adding that the initiative includes covering the costs of travel and “possibly paying for the abortion.”

Debbie Deland, president of the Greater Orlando National Organization for Women, told the Florida Phoenix in an email Tuesday that “women will be at the polls for the election to vote to support women’s rights in the representatives they choose for office.”

Deland added: “DeSantis has given the impression that after the (November) election, he will call a special session of the Legislature to further restrict abortion up to and including a total ban. We plan to fight, be in open rebellion against the loss of this human right, the right to bodily autonomy. …Abortion is part of reproductive health. This additional ban would further discriminate against low income, particularly women of color.”

Meanwhile, state lawmakers in the Orlando area have scheduled an in-person press conference Wednesday “to demand answers” from the governor on the abortion issue, according to a press release from the Florida Democratic Party.

“Leaders from across the Orlando area will hold an in-person press conference to demand answers from Ron DeSantis on his extreme plans to further restrict Floridians’ reproductive freedoms,” the press release stated. “After spending the weekend in Arizona rallying with far-right candidates who support a complete abortion ban with no exceptions, Ron DeSantis is still vowing to ‘expand pro-life protections’ in Florida.”

The Democrats also referenced a state appellate court that refused to allow a 16-year-old pregnant girl who was 10 weeks pregnant to obtain an abortion without the permission of her parents or guardian, according to the Florida Phoenix.

The 3-1 ruling affirms a decision by Escambia County Circuit Judge Jennifer Frydrychowicz, who decided that the girl, identified in the ruling as “Jane Doe 22-B,” had not established “by clear and convincing evidence that she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy” under the judicial bypass option in Florida’s abortion parental consent law.

Speakers scheduled at the event Wednesday are Orlando-area Florida House members Anna Eskamani, Carlos Guillermo Smith, Travaris McCurdy, Kristen Arrington and Joy Goff-Marcil.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.