Biden condemns ‘outrageous’ Florida abortion ruling, campaign points finger at Trump

Biden condemns ‘outrageous’ Florida abortion ruling, campaign points finger at Trump

President Biden on Tuesday called a decision by the Florida Supreme Court to uphold a restrictive abortion law “outrageous” and “extreme,” saying that it had effectively eliminated access to the procedure across the American South.

The president said in a statement that the restrictions in Florida and others enacted by Republicans across the country “are putting the health and lives of millions of women at risk.” But Mr. Biden said voters would “have the opportunity to make their voices heard,” after the court ruled separately that Floridians would be able to decide on expanding abortion access in November.

Mr. Biden’s statement on the decision, which clears the way for a six-week abortion ban, came as his campaign and a host of Democratic officials began an all-out effort to pin responsibility for dwindling access to abortion care squarely on former President Donald J. Trump.

“Donald Trump is directly to blame for the fact that abortion has now been effectively banned across the entire Southeastern United States,” Julie Chávez Rodríguez, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, told reporters on Tuesday. “Make no mistake, Donald Trump will do everything in his power to try and enact a national abortion ban if he’s re-elected.”

Mr. Trump has indicated support for an abortion ban of around 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape or incest, or to save the mother’s life. A representative for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the Florida court decision.

Democrats believe the Florida decisions will turn out voters and perhaps even flip the state — a long shot in a state where Mr. Biden’s contender is a registered voter.

“We’re cleareyed about how hard it will be to win Florida,” Ms. Chávez Rodríguez said, “but we also know that Trump does not have it in the bag.”

As evidence, she and other officials pointed to ballot initiatives in other states where voters have chosen to protect abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. The court’s decision, which ended the constitutional right to an abortion, followed Mr. Trump’s appointment of three conservative justices.

The decision in Florida puts intense scrutiny on a state that has historically been a haven for people from states with more restrictive measures who are seeking abortions. The state’s conservative-leaning Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a 15-week abortion ban enacted in 2022 was constitutional. That ruling will allow a six-week ban championed by Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Republican governor, to take effect by May 1. Mr. Trump previously called the six-week ban a “terrible mistake.”

At the same time, the court also ruled that a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights until fetal viability, usually around 24 weeks, could go on the November ballot.

Democrats say curtailing abortion access is a losing issue for Republicans. In Congress, some Republicans, particularly those in swing districts, have quietly stepped away from restrictive abortion legislation, instead trying to attack Democrats on other issues like immigration, crime and the economy.

Indeed, on Tuesday, Mr. Trump’s campaign shared the names and photos of people officials said had been victims of crimes by undocumented immigrants as the former president prepared to visit Michigan and Wisconsin.

Democrats stayed focused on abortion.

“The more Republicans do here, the worse it’s going to get for them at the ballot box, as it should, because this is an issue people care about all across the country,” said Gov. Roy Cooper, Democrat of North Carolina.

The Biden campaign also released an ad in battleground states on Tuesday in which the president accused his competitor of supporting a national abortion ban. It opens with Mr. Trump saying he was “proud” to have helped overturn Roe.

“Donald Trump doesn’t trust women,” Mr. Biden says in the ad. “I do.”

The spot is part of a $30 million expenditure on advertising in competitive states. Viewers will see it during Major League Baseball games, “Saturday Night Live” and prime-time programming including the Country Music Television awards, the campaign said. The campaign is also targeting social media platforms, including Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, so Florida-based users will see it.

People familiar with the Biden campaign’s strategy said it was unclear whether the campaign would put significant resources toward flipping Florida, but several said the court’s decision allowing a referendum on protecting abortion rights would draw voters to the polls. Recent polling shows that there is enough support for the measure to pass, a sign that activists say is encouraging months before the election.

“I think in this election cycle, with these contrasts, everything is possible, and we have to run everywhere like it’s possible,” Mini Timmaraju, the president of Reproductive Freedom for All, said in an interview.

Mr. Biden, a practicing Catholic, has been a reluctant supporter of abortion access, framing the issue around personal privacy and civil rights rather than access to a medical procedure. On Tuesday, he did not use the word “abortion” in his statement.

“Vice President Harris and I stand with the vast majority of Americans who support a woman’s right to choose, including in Florida,” he said.

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