Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he does not support criminalizing women who receive abortions even after he signed a six-week abortion ban into law earlier this year that includes language that could be interpreted as such.
“We have no criminal penalty,” DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, told “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell in an interview Tuesday. “The penalties are for the physician.”
The law says “any person who willfully performs or actively participates in a termination of pregnancy” in violation of the law would face felony charges. It prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. It also allows abortions up to 15 weeks in cases of rape, incest or human trafficking.
Florida’s six-week ban has yet to go into effect. The state’s current 15-week ban is still in place amid an ongoing legal challenge that is before the state Supreme Court.
DeSantis said the language in the bill is directed at providers.
“It is not for the women,” he said. “We’ve litigated this.”
“Is a woman not actively participating in the termination of her pregnancy?” O’Donnell asked.
“No,” he said. “Because she’s not a medical practitioner.”
DeSantis said he is “absolutely not” in favor of criminalizing women and that it “will not happen in Florida.”
DeSantis acknowledged that Florida’s abortion rates are on the rise as nearby states enact stricter laws.
“We have become, against our wishes, a destination,” he said, adding that if the six-week ban is allowed to go into effect it “would probably stop the whole abortion tourism thing.”
“We don’t want to be an abortion tourism destination,” he said.
He declined to say whether he would support a national ban.
“I support pro-life policies,” he said. “I’ll be a pro-life president. But at the same time, I’ve got to chart the course and be honest with people about, OK, how do you advance the ball like we did in Florida? And the way you do that is really bottom up.”