TAMPA, Fla. — Abortion critics in Florida have started to call on Gov. Ron DeSantis today to add a proposal to this month’s special session that would provide a near-total ban on abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision later this year.

But in comments made Tuesday in Fort Myers Beach, the governor bypassed the topic, instead focusing his ire — as other Republicans have — on the nearly unprecedented leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade that POLITICO reported Monday night.

He also reiterated his support for Florida’s abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which goes into effect in July.

What You Need To Know

  • POLITICO reported Monday night that the Supreme Court has voted to strike down Roe v. Wade, according to an initial draft majority opinion
  • Florida passed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy earlier this session, the most significant bill in limiting abortions in the state in years
  • Abortion rights groups held rallies throughout Florida on Tuesday afternoon

Andrew L. Shirvell, the founder and executive director of the group Florida Voice for the Unborn, penned a letter to the governor thanking him for leading the efforts to pass a 15-week abortion ban that the Legislature approved during the recent legislative session. The law is set to go into effect on July 1.

Shirvell said that with the leak of the high court draft opinion, apparently showing the majority is ready to strike down Roe. v. Wade outright, DeSantis should follow other conservative led states that have enacted so-called “trigger” laws.

Such a law would automatically ban abortion in the first and second trimesters if the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is overturned. CNN has reported that 13 states have already passed trigger laws.

“Now that the legal landscape is about to rapidly change, you have an obligation to follow the lead of other ‘red’ states, like Oklahoma, by ending the abortion crisis in our state,” Shrivell wrote. “With nearly 80,000 abortions reported in 2021 here in Florida, I am pleading with you to act swiftly to save the lives of Florida’s unborn children by immediately amending your April 26th proclamation to include consideration of legislation that would provide a near-total ban on abortions on day one after the final Dobbs decision is released.”

During a Zoom press conference Tuesday morning, Florida House Democrats said they feared that Republican legislators will now push for 'trigger' legislation.

"I will anticipate that the folks that brought us that bill, year after year, are looking for the opportunity to have a trigger law in Florida,” said Palm Beach House Democrat Rep. Kelly Skidmore. “It would not surprise me if it showed up in the next special session at all.”

"They can change the Constitution — they seem to be able to do whatever they want, because as some representatives say, because they can,” added Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Robin Bartleman.

Barry Edwards is a pollster, political consultant and talk-show radio host who says that banning abortion completely would be a political boost for Florida Democrats, while maintaining a ban after 15 weeks like Florida's Legislature passed earlier this year is more politically palatable. 

However, a University of North Florida survey conducted in February found that 57% of Floridians opposed the 15-week abortion ban, which is further than the Legislature has ever done in the state in attempting to limit abortions. The survey found that only 34% supported the measure.

Some analysts have speculated that overturning Roe v. Wade could boost Democrats hopes during the midterm elections this fall by having a certain percentage of Republican women switch over to the Democratic party. Edwards, though, disagrees.

"Republican women are typically Republican because they’re pro-life," he said. "So you’re not going to convert Republican women to come and vote for the Democrats."

And Edwards said he believes that despite the intensity of the moment, the abortion issue won't be dominant when voters go to the polls in the fall.

"I think it pushes one or two points either side — that little," he said. "Because there’s so many other things — even with abortion, inflation is No. 1. Inflation is No. 1 in every single focus group that was done this morning."

But others believe that the issue will persuade Democratic voters who have so far been unenthusiastic about the midterm election to make their way to the polls this fall.