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On anniversary of Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Florida Democrats lambaste Republicans, Trump and Sen. Rick Scott

Anthony Man and Abigail Hasebroock, South Florida Sun-Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A range of Democratic elected officials marked Monday’s two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the Roe v. Wade constitutional protection of abortion rights. They decried the abortion restrictions implemented since then, and warned of even more restrictions on reproductive health if Republicans win November’s elections.

The prime culprit, they said, was former President Donald Trump, who appointed three of the Supreme Court justices who joined the majority in the decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe. They also directed a dose of outrage at U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.

“Two years ago today, Trump’s Supreme MAGA court majority ripped away women’s reproductive freedoms,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. “When Trump ... proudly overturned Roe v. Wade, he delivered endless chaos, confusion and pain across America, especially here in Florida.”

“MAGA lackeys like Rick Scott helped him do it. But ultimately, Trump is responsible for these nightmares that our sisters, daughters, aunts and mothers now face,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Rick Scott and Donald Trump will never stop trying to take our rights away. It’s in their MAGA DNA.”

Democratic message

Public opinion polling — as well as results in other states’ elections and referendums in the two years since Dobbs — suggest the public broadly supports abortion rights and opposes the prospect of further limitations on reproductive health such as in vitro fertilization and contraception.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., called Monday a “dark day” because it was the anniversary of the day when “the real important decision of when or whether to start a family was taken away.”

Frankel said the restrictions implemented in Florida and other Republican-controlled states “create cruel and devastating consequences for women all over the country,” which had the effect of “compromising women’s health, autonomy and dignity.”

Frankel spoke outside the Presidential Women’s Center, an abortion clinic in West Palm Beach, at the same time elected officials and Democrats were appearing in Fort Lauderdale.

State Rep. Robin Bartleman, a West Broward Democrat, offered a similar assessment, calling Monday “a sad day for women across the state of Florida and women across the country.”

Bartleman, Wasserman Schultz, state Rep. Marie Woodson, a South Broward Democrat, and former U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a candidate for the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott, appeared Monday afternoon in Fort Lauderdale, part of a broad, overall day of messaging in which Democrats across the nation attempted to put Republicans on the defensive over greatly reduced access to abortion since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

Six-week ban

The Democrats sought to remind voters that Florida’s near total ban on abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, which went into effect on May 1, was implemented by the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision that allowed states to implement restrictions.

Daniel Saks, medical director of the center, said women cannot receive what he considers normal, routine health care. “Women are being treated as second-class citizens. They are not being treated the same as men, and it’s getting worse,” he said.

Abortion rights advocates have said most women don’t know they’re pregnant at six weeks. Woodson said she didn’t know she was pregnant with her daughter until eight weeks. Wasserman Schultz said she, too, didn’t know she was pregnant with her third child until she was eight weeks pregnant.

Democrats also said access to in vitro fertilization, known as IVF, and contraception would be jeopardized if Republicans win in November.

Republicans

Republicans in South Florida weren’t as outspoken on the issue Monday as Democrats.

One exception: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was handily reelected in 2022 despite Democratic attempts to use the abortion issue to damage him politically.

 

“I will always support the sanctity of life. This anniversary serves as a time to celebrate the great work that has been achieved by the pro-life movement and reaffirm our commitment to support families and protect the unborn,” Rubio said in a statement.

He was one of 18 U.S. senators who introduced a resolution to celebrate the anniversary of the Dobbs decision.

The chairs of the Broward and Palm Beach county Republican parties didn’t immediately respond to messages for comment about the anniversary.

“The Dobbs decision was the correct legal decision,” Evan Power, chair of the Republican Party of Florida, said via text.

“Sadly Democrats are trying to use this manufactured issue to distract from the issues that actually matter to voters; inflation, immigration, and the economy. No one is trying to ban contraceptives, the only misleading is democrats who are using this issue to try and allow abortions but until birth. The American people are not with them so they do what they do best, Lie,” Power said.

Senate race

Wasserman Schultz urged voters to do four things this year: Vote for Amendment 4, the referendum that would enshrine abortion rights in the Florida Constitution; vote against Scott’s reelection; vote against retaining two Florida Supreme Court justices, Renatha Francis and Meredith Sasso, who opposed allowing Amendment 4 on the November ballot; and reelect Biden.

Woodson said it is “time to stand up to the extremist politicians like Rick Scott who want to take away our freedoms.”

Mucarsel-Powell, who organized the Fort Lauderdale news conference, said in the two years since Roe was overturned, “extreme Republicans have launched a full-on attack against a woman’s right and freedoms. And, of course, Rick Scott has led this attack.”

Mucarsel-Powell said a reelected Scott would support a complete ban on abortion, and that reelecting him could jeopardize access to IVF and contraception.

And she highlighted his signature legislation — when he was Florida governor — that implemented a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking to have an abortion.

Stanley Campbell, another candidate for the Democratic Senate nomination, didn’t have an anniversary event, but a campaign spokesperson said the issue is “very much” on his mind.

“For me, Dobbs is very important. My wife had to have an emergency abortion. She was pregnant with twins. One of the twins was ectopic, so her tubes burst. If that was in the state of Florida, she and my son, who is with us today, could have both died under current Florida law. I find Dobbs to be Draconian at best. We have to make a change, and we will have the chance on November 5th,” Campbell said in a statement.

Scott’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the anniversary. Unlike Rubio, his government office didn’t issue a statement or post on social media about Dobbs or abortion on Monday. He voted against Democratic-sponsored legislation to ensure access to IVF, but has also said he’s a supporter of the procedure to help families who can’t get pregnant.

Two years ago, on the day the Dobbs decision was announced, Scott praised it in a statement, saying the Supreme Court “correctly interpreted the Constitution.”

“I firmly believe that life begins at conception and that every child deserves to be welcomed into this world with open and loving arms. Abortion ends a life. It is abhorrent and has no place in our society. While we celebrate the Court’s latest ruling, the fight to protect the sanctity of life is not over,” he said. “We cannot stop fighting until every life, born and unborn, is valued.”

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©2024 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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