Jeffries: Florida is now ‘ground zero’ in abortion fight

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Jeffries: Florida is now ‘ground zero’ in abortion fight

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Florida has become the new battleground for the fight over abortion rights, after the state’s Supreme Court paved the way for a six-week abortion ban in a ruling Monday.

The court upheld the state’s 15-week abortion ban, triggering a provision to implement an already-passed six-week ban starting May 1. The change comes as the court also approved a ballot measure in November that would enshrine abortion rights up to about 24 weeks.

“Florida is now ground zero in the fight to protect a woman’s freedom to make her own reproductive health care decisions,” Jeffries said during a House Democratic leadership meeting held Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“An extreme group of individuals in this state, led by the current governor, are prepared by almost any means to jam their radical right wing ideology down the throats of the people of this state as part of an effort to try to impose a nationwide abortion ban,” he continued. “But we can stop them. We must stop them, and we will stop them together.”

The Biden campaign said it will double down on efforts in Florida after the rulings Monday, arguing that the ballot measure could drive voter turnout and put the state in play, despite recent GOP victories. 

Similar ballot measures have found success in traditional Republican strongholds in recent years, including Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio. The issue of abortion has been a driving force for Democrats since the Supreme Court overturned federal protections for the procedure in 2022. 

Biden denounced the court’s abortion ruling Tuesday.

“Yesterday’s extreme decision puts desperately needed medical care even further out of reach for millions of women in Florida and across the South,” Biden said in a statement.

“The Court not only upheld Florida’s current ban on women being able to make their own reproductive choices, it will likely trigger Governor DeSantis’ even more extreme law that would prevent women from accessing care before many even know they are pregnant,” he continued. “It is outrageous.”

The Biden campaign also released an ad Tuesday following the decision, focusing specifically on former President Trump’s comments taking credit for ending Roe v. Wade by appointing three conservative Supreme Court justices.

“Donald Trump doesn’t trust women. I do,” Biden says in the ad, which will air in battleground states on national cable, local broadcast, cable television, and during shows including “Saturday Night Live,” “The Voice,” and “American Idol.”

Florida has become a hotspot for abortion procedures in the South even with the 15-week ban as neighboring states have even stricter restrictions. Nearly 5,000 more abortions were provided in Florida in the first six months of 2023 than a year before, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Virginia is now the only state in the South that allows abortion beyond the first trimester.