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DeSantis’ Latest Comments Slammed by Anti-Abortion Group as ‘Unacceptable’

The nation’s leading anti-abortion group on Monday called Gov. Ron DeSantis’ failure to support federal abortion restrictions “unacceptable” — a blow for the Florida Republican, who has passed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America was responding to DeSantis’ recent interview with conservative commentator Megyn Kelly, in which the governor said abortion policy would be best decided by the states.

“I’ve been a pro-life governor,” said DeSantis, who signed into law a controversial six-week ban on the procedure in Florida. “I’ll be a pro-life president and I’ll come down on the side of life.”

DeSantis told Kelly he would “be a leader with the bully pulpit to help local communities and states advance the cause of life,” but that he lacked confidence that Congress would do “anything meaningful” on the issue.

“I really believe now in our society it’s really a bottom-up movement, and that’s where we’ve had most success. — Iowa, South Carolina, Florida — and I think you’re going to continue to see a lot of good battles there.”

In response, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, criticized the governor, saying that calling for abortion restrictions despite obstacles in Congress “is where presidential leadership matters most.”

“Gov. DeSantis’s dismissal of this task is unacceptable to pro-life voters,” Dannenfelser said. “A consensus is already formed. Intensity for it is palpable and measurable. There are many pressing legislative issues for which Congress does not have the votes at the moment, but that is not a reason for a strong leader to back away from the fight.”

SBA Pro-Life’s condemnation of DeSantis’ federal abortion policy comes as his campaign is leaning more aggressively on courting the evangelical vote in Iowa in an attempt to close the increasingly wide gap between him and Donald Trump. SBA Pro-Life has been critical of the former president as well as other candidates in the race — including former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley — for failing to adopt the 15-week standard the group has called for 2024 Republican candidates to embrace.

While SBA has vowed to oppose any candidate who doesn’t embrace that 15-week standard, the group hasn’t yet taken any public steps to do so besides issuing statements condemning candidates’ remarks.

Bryan Griffin, press secretary for DeSantis’ campaign, in a statement to POLITICO touted his record in Florida, saying the governor “delivers results and acts, especially when it comes to protecting life.”

“He does not kowtow to DC interest groups,” Griffin said. “This unjustified attack on him is another example of the DC political games that have seen conservatives falter in Washington while Governor DeSantis has produced unmatched conservative victories in Florida.”

When DeSantis formally announced his presidential bid in May, SBA sang his praises. Dannenfelser heralded the governor for “transforming the Sunshine State from a late-term abortion haven to one of the best states in the nation for unborn children and mothers.”

Despite Trump’s appointments of conservative Supreme Court justices that paved the way for the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, the former president has since kept a distance from the anti-abortion movement — touting his work in the past but suggesting the issue is for states to decide.

Dannenfelser in April called Trump’s position a “morally indefensible position for a self-proclaimed pro-life presidential candidate to hold.” A few weeks later, however, Trump attended a meeting with Dannenfelser, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, after which she called the meeting “terrific.”

A person with knowledge of the meeting previously told POLITICO Dannenfelser and others involved in the movement were holding out hope that Trump would eventually embrace their 15-week standard — though he has still failed to do so.

And after Haley repeatedly declined this spring to get behind a specific federal policy proposal to restrict abortions, she too got dinged by SBA. After holding an abortion policy speech at the group’s Arlington headquarters in April — one where she also declined to embrace the 15-week standard they expected — Haley, in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” in May, said most federal limits were “not realistic,” given gridlock in Congress. Dannenfelser responded at the time, calling Haley’s answer “not acceptable.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), meanwhile, have each said they would sign a 15-week national abortion ban into law, though Scott initially waffled on how far he would go as president if presented with a federal abortion law.

Source : Politico