Gov. DeSantis denies patients will be prosecuted under 6-week abortion ban

Abortion rights advocates point out the law's wording makes no distinction between patients and medical providers in calling for penalties for violating the law.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ rapid response team is promoting his remarks denying women would be prosecuted for having abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. But others say it points out exactly the problem with the law he signed this year.

The DeSantis War Room posted a clip of the moment from his sit-down with CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell that aired Wednesday night: “WATCH: @RonDeSantis shut downs (sic) CBS’ Norah O’Donnell pushing a manufactured narrative about Florida’s Heartbeat law.”

O’Donnell quotes the line in the legislation (SB 300) that says that it will be a felony of the third degree for “any person who willfully performs or actively participates in a termination of pregnancy.” Some states have taken that to mean anyone who helps a pregnant woman seeking an abortion, even relatives.

“The penalties are for the physician,” DeSantis said.

O’Donnell followed up: “The woman is not actively participating in the termination of a pregnancy?”

DeSantis replies, “No, because she’s not a medical practitioner.”

But Democrats and abortion rights advocates pushed back against that characterization Thursday. Orlando Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani, who participated in the floor debate on the law, said that who would be subject to punishment for violating this abortion ban was one of the issues that 50 rejected amendments tried to clarify, but Republicans resisted.

“Where it says, ‘any person who willfully performs or actively participates in the termination of pregnancy,’ is just so broad, it could impact anyone,” Eskamani said, noting it could be the person who calls the taxi to bring the person to the clinic.

DeSantis suspended Andrew Warren from his position as Hillsborough County’s State Attorney, in part, because he signed a pledge not to prosecute for violations of the abortion ban. Much of that pledge focuses on the individual making the decision and how seeking the procedure can be the result of “sexual abuse, rape, incest, human trafficking and domestic violence.”

Saying there is no penalty for women who receive an abortion is an absolute lie,” Warren posted. “Florida’s draconian six-week abortion law expressly covers anyone who ‘performs or actively participates’ — covering doctors, nurses and the participating patients.

The new law does allow the procedure between six and 15 weeks of pregnancy, if the patient has documents attesting to rape, incest or human trafficking. But it has no mention of domestic violence.

As far as prosecuting women for having an abortion, Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said the law is not what DeSantis promises — it’s the words in the law. And the words in this law open the door for the prosecution of those who end their own pregnancies.

It “will be interpreted by courts that he helped stack with extremist Federalist Society Justices,” Fried said in a written statement, identifying a group that has promulgated rolling back abortion rights.

Laura Goodhue, Executive Director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said even though the law doesn’t explicitly call for prosecuting those who seek an abortion past the six-week point in pregnancy — before most know they are pregnant — it’s already created a dangerous climate for those seeking care.

“Ron DeSantis may try to pull the wool over voters’ eyes, but Floridians know that he’ll stop at nothing to ban abortion and punish the people who have them,” Goodhue said in a written statement.

Read the pledge Warren signed here:

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Dale A Arnold

    September 14, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    So she was tricked into thinking she was walking into a Walmart?
    Or was she kidnapped and dragged in against her will by Evi an l doctor?

    • Earl Pitts "The Big Voice On The Right" American

      September 14, 2023 at 8:26 pm

      Well Dale I’m not really sure where you were taking us there. But I know we can count on your vote for Desantis in both 2024 & 2028.
      Welcome aboard Dale we Conservatives have a big tent and your place is here where people like you. Stay away from the leftys Dale. Dont talk to those losers.
      Earl Pitts American

      • Dale A Arnold

        September 15, 2023 at 9:02 am

        No thanks.. You can keep your anti lgbtq, anti black history, anti women, culture war tent to your self!

  • Michael K

    September 14, 2023 at 6:44 pm

    DeSantis is on track to reach 30,000 + lies just like his maker. Of course the women are being punished. Cruelty is always the point.

    • Earl Pitts "The Big Voice On The Right" American

      September 14, 2023 at 8:37 pm

      Well Michael kind of like with Dale I’m not sure where you are taking us either. But Dale’s our boy, we like him, we dont like you. Can you please find a place to hang out with more folks like you? Yeah Michael that would be great.
      And dont talk to Dale as he’s our boy and you can just leave him alone.
      Thank you Michael,
      Earl Pitts American

  • PeterH

    September 15, 2023 at 1:28 am

    There is not one Republican Presidential contender who has not endorsed the idea of a nationwide abortion ban.

    Republicans are America’s biggest problem!

    Vote all Republicans out of office!

  • Same as immigrants

    September 17, 2023 at 11:36 am

    Why does Yarvard and Hale educated attorney Rhonda Dee Santis write laws targeting people and then claim the targeted people are not the targets? He is running off all the immigrants and all the women. Apparently Rhonda’s concept of a master race for Florida is white men intermixed with oiled muscle gays. Shocking. LOL. Not shocked. Not that there’s anything wrong with oiled, muscle gays. There’s just something about Rhonda that’s wrong. Hard wrong.

  • Sonja Fitch

    September 18, 2023 at 5:26 am

    Desantis is lying! Desantis is playing the headlined to get in the news!! Republicans have gone too far to control the woman’s Body! Where is the control on men?

Comments are closed.


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