WASHINGTON (TND) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed a restrictive abortion bill into law.
It bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy without exemptions for rape or incest. It does allow exemptions if the pregnancy is a serious risk to the mother or if a fatal fetal abnormality is detected.
“We are here today to protect life,” DeSantis said as he signed the bill.
Previously, Florida allowed abortions through the second trimester, making it one of the most lenient states in the Southeast.
Just this week, new abortion restrictions were passed in several more Republican-led states including Kentucky and Oklahoma. More are expected if the Supreme Court upholds Mississippi's 15-week ban.
The abortion ban is just one of many controversial issues Florida's governor has recently taken on but the controversy doesn't seem to be hurting him politically. In fact, it seems to be doing just the opposite.
It’s another flashpoint in a long string of accomplishments on his conservative agenda.
From pandemic policy to parents' participation in schools, the rising star of the Republican party hasn’t shied away from controversy and his popularity and notoriety only seem to grow with each new piece of polarizing legislation.
Last month, he signed the Parental Rights in Education law which prevents public schools from teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation in pre-K through 3rd grade.
The legislation, which has been labeled the “Don't Say Gay" bill by opponents nationwide, inspired protests and headlines but it didn’t hurt his polling numbers.
In fact, according to a new Rasmussen poll, 52% of voters nationwide have a favorable view of the governor and 37% of those voters say it's a "very" favorable view.
“If I were the DeSantis camp, I would be happy with where I’m at looking forward to re-election,” said Dr. Stephen Neely, a professor of public affairs at the University of South Florida.
Neely’s recent poll of Florida voters found similar trends.
According to the USF survey, 5% of state voters approve of how DeSantis is handling jobs and the economy, which respondents ranked as their top issue.
Far fewer ranked COVID-19 as a major concern but half also approved of the governor's pandemic policies, which included lifting COVID restrictions for schools and businesses and a ban on vaccine mandates.
“His position on COVID-19, his anti-lockdown position so to speak, made him very popular among Republican voters,” Neely said.
With the governor up for re-election this fall and speculation swirling about his possible plans for 2024, Neely expects these culture war clashes to keep DeSantis in the national spotlight and on solid ground in the polls.
“The more you take on some of these controversial bills like the ones we've seen passed recently, the more you will appeal to the base at a national level,” said Neely.
Now, surrounded by legislative leaders and pro-life advocates, DeSantis’ signing of the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality bill, DeSantis has garnered more support from his strong conservative base.
The law will go into effect on July 1.