Experts say abortion rights weren't probably going to be among the top issues in this year’s midterm election cycle in Florida.
That could change, they say, following a leaked draft opinion that indicates the U.S. Supreme Court may be on the verge of overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in America.
What You Need To Know
- Florida passed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy earlier this year that is set to begin in July
- Democrats raised more than $12 million nationally in the 24 hours after the Roe v. Wade draft Supreme Court opinion was published, according to Bloomberg
- The official decision on abortion rights is expected to be released by the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of June
“I think that we’re definitely going to have abortion come into the political discourse here, come the primaries and in the general election, depending on what the Supreme Court does,” Tampa-based GOP political consultant Anthony Pedicini told Spectrum news. “I think that there’s a lot of people that are waiting to see what the actual court ruling is. I know I am — I know a lot of my clients are.”
Nationally, Democrats appear to be fired up, as the party raised $12 million on Tuesday, according to ActBlue, which processes online donations for Democratic-aligned candidates and groups.
Bloomberg reports however that’s a far cry from the $70 million the group processed the day after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died in September 2020, which was just a couple of months before the presidential election.
In passing a bill that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy during the recently concluded legislative session, experts say the Florida Legislature enacted one of the most restrictive bills ever in terms of abortion access in the state.
In 2020, the legislature passed a measure that required parental consent before minors can have an abortion. Pedicini said that Florida Republican lawmakers have been incrementally restricting abortion rights, doing so “as science changes.”
“There’s been a very slow development towards this 15-week ban,” he said. “We went from ultrasounds — we went from a waiting period — we did a smaller window of time and now an even smaller window of time. So it’s gotten more and more restrictive.”
The politics of abortion rights may play a factor into the Democratic nomination for governor.
Charlie Crist continues to lead both Nikki Fried and Annette Taddeo in the race for the nomination, according to a St. Pete Polls survey released Wednesday.
The poll found the former Republican governor, and current Democratic U.S. representative from St. Petersburg, with 52%, with Fried at 19% and Taddeo at 5%. The margin of error on that poll was 2.3% in either direction, and the sample size was 1,859 likely Democratic voters, according to the report.
Crist also leads all the Democrats in fundraising numbers.
However, the Fried campaign released an internal poll from Public Policy Polling on Wednesday that they say shows the agriculture commissioner to be the most favorable candidate at +35, with Crist at +28 and Taddeo at +3.
Fried has made an issue of Crist’s record on abortion rights over the past few weeks.
Democratic political consultant Maya Brown said that Fried and Taddeo have a unique opportunity in being women. This will allow them to separate themselves from Crist on abortion, but Brown said they have a lot of work to do.
“How are you going to get your message out there about your record on reproductive health and a women’s right to choose?” she asked, adding that when speaking with “folks of color” that these need to be “nuanced” discussions.
“I’d be interested in the next coming weeks, or so to see how these two candidates … begin to either join conversations that are already happening, or begin to lead their own discussions to bring other folks kind of on the margins into their campaigns,” Brown said.
Pedicini said he’s skeptical that the abortion issue will move significant numbers of Democratic voters to the polls in what has been projected to be a huge year for Republicans in the November midterm election.
“If you’re a Democrat in Florida, or in a lot of places in the country right now, you gotta be beat down,” he said. “You beat President Trump. You got sleepy Joe now who bungled getting out of Afghanistan, who’s the president of inflation, and now the Supreme Court is talking about striking down Roe vs. Wade. I mean, it’s a horrible time to be on the left.”
Brown said that this is a time to expose Republican hypocrisy regarding their claim of being the party of limited government, referring to the state’s Department of Health releasing guidelines against treatment of gender dysphoria for children and teens outside of counseling, or the passing of the Parental Rights in Education bill, a measure Democrats have called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“I think that it’s our job as Democrats is to tell the story that we are the ones protecting our freedoms to vote, our freedoms to choose and making sure that government has no interference with those really personal decisions,” she said.