Democrats Say Florida’s 6-Week Abortion Ban Is A ‘Reality Check’ Ahead Of November

The Florida Supreme Court handed down two rulings on Monday with vastly different effects on abortion rights in the Sunshine State: One gave the go-ahead for a six-week abortion ban to take effect in less than a month, and the other approved a statewide vote in November on whether to enshrine abortion care in the Florida constitution.

The contrasting decisions have left Democrats energized by the ballot initiative win but also bracing for the effects of an abortion ban that will wipe out what little access is left in the Southeast.

“I want people to be excited, but they seem to be missing the fact that the six-week ban is about to be a horrific reality in Florida,” state Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D) told HuffPost on Tuesday. “More women will die, more women will suffer, and that is the reality that we have to live with.”

The six-week abortion ban is set to go into effect on May 1, and the vote on the abortion rights amendment won’t happen until Nov. 5. If the amendment passes, it won’t take effect until some time in January. That means the best-case scenario is around nine months of a six-week abortion ban in a state that has been a critical haven for abortion care in the Southeast, where nearly every state has enacted restrictions since the repeal of Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

“It’ll be a reality check for how dire the situation is in the Sunshine State,” Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani (D), who worked at Planned Parenthood for six years before being elected to the Florida House, told HuffPost.

“A lot of everyday people don’t know what the status of abortion access is in the state until they need one,” she said. “One of the realities of a six-week abortion ban is that more people are going to hear about it because those stories of devastation are going to be more prevalent.”

Eskamani and Book, along with other Democrats in the state, have already started to prepare for the reality of a six-week abortion ban. Both are working with the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliate and asking constituents to volunteer to continue to get the word out about the ballot initiative.

“One of the realities of a six-week abortion ban is that more people are going to hear about it because those stories of devastation are going to be more prevalent.”

– Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani (D)

Despite their frustration, Democrats are seizing the opportunity to remind voters who engineered the ongoing attack on reproductive rights in Florida and across the country: Donald Trump and the Republican Party. The Biden-Harris campaign repeatedly reminded reporters in a Tuesday call that the former president is to blame for Florida’s six-week abortion ban and the many others that have become law since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe.

Trump has bragged about appointing the conservative Supreme Court justices who were critical in striking down Roe, and he continues to align himself with some of the most extreme anti-abortion organizations in the country. He also recently confirmed that he is considering supporting a national abortion ban if reelected.

“The only thing standing between Americans and a national abortion ban is Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez said in the call with reporters. “These are the stakes in November, and we’re going to continue to make sure that every single voter knows them.”

Biden called the Florida court decision on the ban “outrageous” in a Tuesday statement and promised to restore Roe if he is reelected. Chávez Rodríguez also made it clear that the Biden campaign will focus on Florida ahead of November, calling the state “a winnable one for President Biden” in a recent memo.

Eskamani is talking to abortion providers and funds to ensure groups know how to navigate what’s coming. Most abortion funds in Florida, similar to those in other states with bans, are getting ready to effectively become travel agencies to help patients access the financial and practical support they need to get care out of state.

And there aren’t many nearby states where pregnant people can get care. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said Tuesday during the call that he knows the little abortion access left in his state won’t be enough to make up for the loss in Florida. North Carolina was another haven for care in the region until its legislature passed a veto-proof 12-week abortion ban last year. Even with the current “heroic effort” of North Carolina’s abortion providers, Cooper said, “it will not be enough to help all the women left out in the cold by this decision.”

One main goal Eskamani is discussing with abortion providers is the necessity of diversifying their services so they can stay in business. It will be imperative, she said, that abortion clinics outlast any ban in the state.

“We know that we have a fight ahead of us for November, and we know what that looks like,” Book said. “There has not been a moment to rest, and we’re going to continue to work because failure simply isn’t an option.”