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Guest Column
The stakes for the governor’s race in Florida have just gotten higher | Column
Legal scholars say if the draft court opinion stands, it could open the door for states to successfully repeal other rights — such as the right to use contraception and the right of gay couples to marry.
Abortion rights activist protests outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Washington. A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Abortion rights activist protests outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Washington. A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) [ JOSE LUIS MAGANA | AP ]
Published May 13

A draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion published last week and supported by the court’s radical conservative majority would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion rights. If it stands, the opinion would overturn a half century of established law and leave the nation’s governors as the last line of defense in protecting a woman’s right to choose.

In Florida, Charlie Crist already has been governor, and he is battle tested. He has a strong record of protecting abortion rights in Tallahassee and now in Washington as a member of the U.S. House. And he is the Democrats’ best hope of defeating Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who already has signed into law untenable abortion restrictions that clearly violate both the Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.

Alex Sink
Alex Sink [ Provided ]

It’s clear where Crist stands on supporting the rights of women to make the most personal decision over their own bodies.

That’s why many of Florida’s women leaders are standing with Charlie Crist in this campaign. I’m proud to join civil rights leaders like former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and incumbent state legislators such as state Rep. Fentrice Driskell, who are all supporting Charlie.

As a state senator in 1995, Charlie’s vote killed legislation that would have created a 24-hour waiting period (that a judge recently allowed to go into effect). As governor in 2010, Crist courageously vetoed legislation that would have required ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion. I was among those who persuaded him to veto it.

In Congress, Charlie co-sponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 that passed the House and would put the rights and protections afforded by Roe v. Wade into federal law. He has voted against legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, restrict access to abortion coverage in health insurance plans and other efforts to interfere with a woman’s right to choose. In fact, Charlie has a perfect score as a member of Congress from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

The Crist record of standing up for abortion rights is clear. So is Gov. Ron DeSantis’ record of assaulting abortion rights. He just signed into law extreme legislation that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy — and does not even allow exceptions for rape and incest. I would not be surprised if DeSantis next pushes a “trigger law’' that would automatically ban abortion in Florida if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe. That would turn women and doctors into criminals.

That might not be the only danger. Legal scholars say if the draft court opinion stands, it could open the door for states to successfully repeal other rights — such as the right to use contraception and the right of gay couples to marry. We have already seen DeSantis and the Republican-led Legislature erode our constitutional rights, from abortion rights to voting rights. I shudder to think what they would do if they are given carte blanche by the U.S. Supreme Court to continue their assault on freedoms we thought were secure.

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As a member of the Florida Cabinet, I worked alongside Charlie when he was governor. I know his values. I know his clear record on defending abortion rights. And I know he will pro-actively protect the freedom for women to make the most personal of decisions about their own health care.

Alex Sink served as Florida’s chief financial officer and a member of the Florida Cabinet from 2007 to 2011. She was the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor in 2010.

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