Kamala Harris bringing politically charged abortion issue to DeSantis' front door

Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald on

Published in Political News

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Of all the places to go to rally advocates for reproductive rights on the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday will travel to Florida’s capital – and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ home turf – to exploit an issue that even supporters of the conservative culture warrior say may be a vulnerability.

Harris will “deliver a major address” and speak about “what’s at stake for millions of women across the country and, most importantly, the need for Congress to codify the protections of Roe into law,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday.

Organizers of the event, Ruth’s List Florida and Planned Parenthood of Florida, are busing in supporters from around the state as the battle over abortion access shifts to the states after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned nearly 50 years of legal precedent.

“Florida is one of those ground-zero states, and Tallahassee lets them take it to DeSantis,’’ said state Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton. “The governor is literally on the wrong side of voters.”

As a potential candidate for the GOP nomination for president in 2024, DeSantis’ posture on the volatile issue has opened him up to attacks from all sides. The rift underscores his dilemma: the majority of the public doesn’t want stricter abortion laws, but his conservative supporters are demanding it.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates , said Harris chose Florida for two reasons: “The White House is signaling that the fight is in the states now, and we’re not going to sit back and let people lose access to care and worsen this public health crisis.”


And because Florida is adjacent to two states with stricter abortion requirements, Planned Parenthood facilities “have seen a quadruple increase in patients from out of state seeking abortion care.”

The choice of Florida as the site for the vice presidential visit is not lost on abortion opponents, including those who have openly criticized DeSantis and Florida’s legislators for failing to do more to restrict abortions in the state.

“I would think the governor should be embarrassed that she’s coming to his state to rally the troops, and that they kind of look at this deeply red state as a firewall,’’ said Andrew Shirvell, the founder and executive director of Florida Voice for the Unborn, a grass-roots anti-abortion group.

“If she really wants to take on these deep red states that have completely banned abortion, she’d be in Austin, or in Oklahoma City or in Little Rock, but she’s not. She’s here in Tallahassee,’’ Shirvell said. “I think that’s because her base of supporters senses that with DeSantis and the Republican legislature, this is the one weak issue that they’ve shown time and time again that they won’t address.”


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