(The Daily Signal) — In response to Donald Trump’s suggestion that pro-life Americans think Florida’s new heartbeat abortion ban is “too harsh,” Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized the former president on Tuesday for failing to definitively specify whether he supports banning abortion after a baby has a heartbeat.
“He signed six weeks, and many people within the pro-life movement feel that that was too harsh,” Trump said in an interview earlier this week about DeSantis, who is widely expected to announce a presidential campaign soon.
DeSantis, who has not directly addressed whether he intends to run for president, took questions at a Tuesday press conference in Lighthouse Point, Florida, at which a reporter asked him to address Trump’s remarks.
“Protecting an unborn child when there’s a detectable heartbeat is something that probably 99% of pro-lifers support,” the Florida governor said. “It’s something that other states like Iowa, under Gov. Kim Reynolds, have enacted.”
DeSantis added that “as a Florida resident, [Trump] didn’t give an answer about, ‘Would you have signed the heartbeat bill that Florida did?’”
“That had all the exceptions that people talk about, the legislature put it in,” DeSantis emphasized of Florida’s Heartbeat Protection Act. “I signed the bill. I was proud to do it. 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
Following Trump’s remark, pro-life groups have pushed back against the claim in statements to The Daily Signal.
“The pro-life movement demands a presidential candidate who will boldly advocate for the human rights of all people,” Noah Brandt, vice president of communications at Live Action, told 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.”
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and the March for Life both pointed to polling showing that Floridians support the state’s new law. “Florida’s Heartbeat Protection Act followed the science and the will of the people, and was an enormous victory in the battle for human rights,” Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America said.
Live Action President Lila Rose went further: “Trump is embarrassing himself by abandoning pro-life voters and the children we are fighting for … If President Trump is done with fighting for life, pro-life voters should be done with him.”
The former president has not responded to requests for comment from The Daily Signal.
DeSantis’ office had praised the bill’s recent passage as a historic measure “to defend the dignity of human life and transform Florida into a pro-family state,” contrasting Florida’s new pro-life legislation with the laws of states such as New York and California, which have “legalized infanticide up until birth.”
Last year, DeSantis also signed a 15-week abortion ban and legislation promoting fatherhood in the state through educational and mentorship programs, as well as one-on-one support. He also signed a bill expanding support for foster parents and children (SB 7034) and a bill combating maternal mortality rates (SB 2518).