NRL News

DeSantis and Abortion…Extreme or Mainstream?

by | Jul 11, 2023

By David N. O’Steen. Ph.D.

Editor’s note. This appears in the July issue of National Right to Life News. Please share this 52-page edition with your family and friends.

Pro-life Florida Governer Ron DeSantis signing Florida’s Heartbeat Protection Act

Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision to sign the recently passed bill limiting abortion in Florida immediately drew the expected reaction from abortion supporters and the abortion friendly media. The political wisdom of his signing the bill was even questioned in some pro-life Republican circles.

“This near total ban is cruel and inhumane, particularly given most people don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks,” the National Abortion Federation’s Chief Program Officer said in a statement.

“Everyone will see him (DeSantis) for the dangerous, out of touch, overzealous politician he is.”  The Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Votes said in a response.

“No one wants the bans extremists like Ron DeSantis are forcing on them…”  stated Naral Pro-Choice America’s President.

Of course, to the abortion industry, a measure that saves even one baby is Extreme! Extreme!  Extreme!  But when we pull back the layers of hysterical rhetoric evidenced in the above quotes and actually examine the new Florida law, we see how far off the mark those characterizations are.

Florida law allows abortion for any reason up until six weeks of pregnancy, the time at which the child’s heartbeat can be detected, and throughout pregnancy to save the mother’s life or in case of a medical emergency. In cases of rape or incest abortion is allowed through the 15th week of pregnancy.  

The four exceptions all have over 80% support, according to recent polling by the McLaughlin Group.

So, the law does not “Ban” abortion.  Rather, it limits abortion in order to protect an unborn child with a beating heart from an abortion performed for family planning and social reasons.

What about support for such a “heartbeat” law?

Abortion supporters like to cite polls such as an April 2023 Marist poll for NPR/PBS Newshour which asked:

Do you support or oppose a law that allows abortion, but only up to the time cardiac activity is detected about 6 weeks into pregnancy?

Forty percent said yes and 59% said no.

But that poll question doesn’t accurately describe the Florida heartbeat law, or a similar heartbeat law recently passed in South Carolina.  

In March a National Right to Life poll done by the McLaughlin Group asked a question that much more accurately portrays the Florida and South Carolina laws:

Would you support or oppose allowing abortion only before six weeks when there is no detectable heartbeat and later only under these four circumstances: 1) when it is necessary 

to save the life of the mother, 2) when there is a medical emergency posing serious risk of substantial irreversible physical harm to the mother, 3) in case of rape, or 4) in case of incest?

Sixty four percent supported it and 30% opposed it. 

The inclusion of the 4 exceptions, each of which has 80% or more public support, makes a very big difference in support for heartbeat laws such as the ones in Florida and South Carolina.

It is crucial that these laws be publicly and accurately described, including the exceptions, in order to gain majority support.  

But women don’t know they’re pregnant by 6 weeks, right?  The numbers belie that assertion.  

The trend has been for abortions to be performed earlier and earlier.  The Centers for Disease Control reported that 45% of all abortions in 2020 were performed by 6 weeks of pregnancy. More recently a report just released by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control showed that 51.48% of abortions in 2022 in that state were performed by the sixth week of pregnancy.

Since about one half of all abortions are done by 6 weeks, if most women don’t know they are pregnant by then, it follows that some women who don’t even know they are pregnant are getting early abortions anyway. That makes no sense.

Further, if a woman has any reason to think she can possibly be pregnant, modern pregnancy tests are highly accurate, readily available and relatively inexpensive. Some pregnancy care centers offer them free.

Far from being “extreme” or “out of touch,” the Florida heartbeat law Governor DeSantis signed can garner close to two thirds public support when properly understood, while potentially saving about one half of all children who are at risk to die from abortion.

In Florida that means a LOT of babies can be saved. The Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration reported that 82,581 abortions were performed in 2022. Half of that number would be over 40,000 children’s lives saved annually.

Is the Florida law perfect? No, but no law is. And for each child whose life is spared it is really, really, really good. They would say, “Thank you Governor DeSantis.”

Categories: Pro-Lifers