Trump took a shot at the governor in a Monday interview published in The Messenger. Trump stated that “many people within the pro-life movement” consider the six-week abortion ban, the Heartbeat Protection Act, to be too strict.
“Protecting an unborn child when there’s a detectable heartbeat is something that probably 99% of pro-lifers support,” DeSantis said on Monday in response to a question from a reporter. “It’s something that other states, like Iowa under Governor Kim Reynolds, have enacted.”
DeSantis then fired back at Trump, pointing out the former president’s reluctance to articulate a specific policy position on abortion and the right to life.
“I think that, as a Florida resident, you know, he didn’t give an answer about, ‘Would you have signed the heartbeat bill that Florida did?’” the governor said, referring to Trump’s decision to take up residence in Florida after exiting the White House. “I signed the bill, I was proud to do it, and he won’t answer whether he would sign it or not.”
.@RonDeSantisFL addresses Trump's claim that the pro-life movement thinks FL's six week abortion ban is too harsh: “Protecting an unborn child when there’s a detectable heartbeat is something that probably 99% of pro-lifers support… [Trump] won’t answer whether he would sign it… pic.twitter.com/g9yx2GuGq3
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) May 16, 2023
Trump’s comment also drew backlash from pro-life groups, according to The Daily Signal. “It is sad and disappointing to see a candidate attack the people of Florida for protecting pre-born Floridians with a detectable heartbeat,” said Noah Brandt, vice president of communications at Live Action.
Trump told The Messenger that DeSantis “has to do what he has to do. … But he signed six weeks, and many people within the pro-life movement feel that that was too harsh.”
He went on to tout his own contribution to the pro-life movement. “For 50 years, they’ve been trying to get rid of Roe v. Wade. I was able to do it. Nobody else could have done that but me. And I was able to do it [by nominating] three excellent judges on the Justices of the Supreme Court,” Trump said.
DeSantis is widely seen as Trump’s chief adversary in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, and abortion has become a more complicated discussion in the GOP after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. The pro-life movement suffered a string of defeats in 2022 in states such as Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, and Montana as pro-life leaders and politicians try to tease out the popular limits on their positions.
Republican voters tend to favor more restrictions on abortion. An April Marist poll found that 32% of Republican voters support banning abortion with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Another 28% of Republicans favor even stricter laws. The same poll found that 31% of independents support outlawing abortion with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, and nearly the same number, 29%, favor legal abortion through the first three months of the pregnancy.
Democrats are far more permissive, according to the poll. Nearly four in ten Democrats support abortion at any time during a pregnancy.