Abortion ban details divide HD 39 candidates

Charles Hart, Doug Bankson, Randy Ross
Charles Hart, Doug Bankson endorse full abortion ban, Randy Ross sees exceptions.

House District 39 Republican voters will have a choice in the Primary Election between two candidates who want absolute bans on abortion and one who is willing to discuss exceptions.

At a Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida forum Tuesday, Apopka City Commissioner Doug Bankson and Orange County Republican Chair Charles Hart expressed emphatic opposition to all abortions while activist Randy Ross offered nuanced and limited opposition.

That was one sharp distinction in a forum that also saw varying positions or priorities across issues of senior care, gun rights, affordable housing and property insurance reform.

The newly drawn HD 39 covers northwestern Orange County and southwestern Seminole County, centered on Apopka but including parts of Winter Garden, Longwood, Altamonte Springs and Longwood. Recent General Elections suggest it’s pretty evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

HD 39 Democratic nominee Tiffany Hughes is a strong supporter of abortion access rights.

That’s not true of Bankson, a senior pastor at a church he founded, nor Hart, a lawyer. They both expressed support for banning all abortion in Florida, now that the Supreme Court’s overturn of the landmark abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade has opened that option for states.

“I’m unabashedly pro-life,” said Bankson, contending that life begins at conception.

He offered no exceptions in the cases of a risk to the woman’s life, or for rape or incest.

“We need to make sure that we have stricter laws against those who are performing these crimes and make sure we have more support for those upon whom they’ve been perpetrated,” Bankson said.

Hart was more succinct.

“Abortion is wrong. It should be illegal. Period. Full stop,” he said.

Ross called himself “a pro-life person as well,” but allowed for exceptions, and did not call for a full ban at conception.

“When it comes to rape and incest, I have to differ with my opponent,” Ross said. “I do believe there are circumstances, obviously an emergency situation with the life of the mother.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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