Florida has seen a 6% reduction in abortions compared to this time last year, which is roughly 4,600 fewer procedures.
Dr. Shelly Tein with Planned Parenthood of Northeast Florida recounted her frustration when she had to turn away a 15-year-old incest victim, because her pregnancy had passed the 15-week mark. The child had to be transported out of state to obtain an abortion.
“And to not be able to provide that service because of a restriction for a patient in a such a terrible and violent situation is horrible,” said Tein in a virtual news conference.
That story is now the focus of a new campaign ad put out by Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist. In it, Crist highlights Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of Florida’s 15-week abortion ban, which has no exemptions for rape or incest.
UNF political science professor Dr. Michael Binder said the ad puts a human face on the impacts of DeSantis’ policy decision, but added he’s unsure whether it’s enough to impact the race.
“I don’t want to say this in the wrong way, but abortion doesn’t affect everybody. It affects small portions of the society at any given time,” said Binder.
On the other hand, Andrew Shirvell with Florida Voice for the Unborn, a group that helped push the 15-week ban, had a very different take. He doesn’t believe the ad stands to help Crist, but he argued DeSantis’ relative silence on the issue of abortion throughout the campaign could cost him conservative votes in November.
“He should talk about the humanity of the unborn child, why he’s done what he has done over the past four years and where Florida is going,” said Shirvell.
Earlier in the year, the story of a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio who had to travel across state lines to get an abortion became a national flashpoint in the abortion debate.
But Binder argues that voter priorities have since shifted. He doesn’t see the issue making a large dent in the results one way or the other.
“By and large it’s the economy, It’s inflation, it’s cost of living. Those are the things that are impacting everybody,” said Binder.
If Crist hopes to change the dynamics of the race, he’s got a lot of ground to make up.
The two most recent polls both gave DeSantis an 11-point lead.