Florida’s Six-Week Abortion Ban Is Now Law, With Political Implications

As Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida prepared to run for president last spring, he gathered anti-abortion activists in his Capitol office for an unusual bill signing, held late at night and behind closed doors.

Florida lawmakers had just approved a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, a major policy shift that would sharply restrict access to the procedure for women in neighboring states as well as for Floridians. That law took effect on Wednesday.

For Mr. DeSantis, the move seemed like something that would play well among some Republican presidential primary voters in states like Iowa. But this was Florida, and public opinion polls suggested broad opposition to such a strict law.

So Mr. DeSantis, who typically crisscrosses the state to sign bills, enacted the six-week ban in April 2023 with little fanfare, part of a headlong push into cultural conservatism meant to bolster his national campaign.

Mr. DeSantis dropped out of the presidential race in January. His culture wars appear to have peaked, at least for now. Voters in a string of states, including more traditionally Republican ones, have chosen to protect or expand abortion rights. A similar ballot measure will go before Florida voters in November, with the potential to significantly influence contests down the ballot.

Perhaps the biggest political question in Florida, though, is just how much abortion might swing the election. Is it unique enough to turn around a state that has trended reliably Republican?

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