Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sparred with CBS host Norah O’Donnell over abortion and parental rights in a recent interview.
The interview was released in two parts on Tuesday and Wednesday night. O’Donnell and DeSantis discussed border security and the upcoming 2024 presidential election, which the Florida governor is currently seeking the Republican nomination for, during Tuesday night’s segment.
During Wednesday night’s portion of the interview, DeSantis and the CBS host sparred over abortion and parental rights in education.
O’Donnell claimed abortions in the Sunshine State had increased following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade last year and asked DeSantis if he supported a national ban on abortion.
“The issue with Florida is that the southeastern states have very, very strong pro-life laws,” Governor DeSantis said, referencing the state’s 15-week abortion ban currently in litigation. “We have become, against our wishes, a destination [for abortions].”
DeSantis noted the state’s Heartbeat Protection Act would go into effect “once the courts clear,” adding he believed the legislation would stop abortion tourism.
“Why won’t you answer that question?” O’Donnell asked as DeSantis appeared confused.
The CBS host reiterated her question asking why DeSantis would support a federal ban on abortion.
“I support pro-life policies,” DeSantis said as the two talked over each other. “I’ll be a pro-life President.”
“At the same time, you know, I’ve got to chart the course and be honest with people about, ‘Okay, how do you advance the ball like we did in Florida?’ And the way you do that is really bottom up,” he said.
O’Donnell cited Florida’s abortion legislation which reads, “any person who willfully performs or actively participates in a termination of pregnancy” could be subject to jail time and fines.
DeSantis noted the language referred to abortion providers, not women receiving abortions.
“Is a woman not actively participating in the termination of her pregnancy?” O’Donnell asked.
Governor DeSantis reiterated that women receiving abortions weren’t medical practitioners to which the CBS host insisted the state was criminalizing women seeking abortions.
“Absolutely not,” he responded. “That will not happen in Florida.”
O’Donnell further pressed DeSantis on a travel advisory issued by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) claiming the Sunshine State was “openly hostile for African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals.”
DeSantis said the NAACP’s travel advisory was a “stunt.”
“In Florida, our unemployment rate amongst African Americans is way lower than New York, California and these blue states,” he continued. “We have more black-owned businesses in Florida than any state in the United States.”
“I have more African American students on scholarships for our school choice program than any other state in the United States,” he said. “We will judge people as individuals, we want people to rise up based on their merit.”
O’Donnell claimed “minorities,” “black Americans,” and “people who are part of the LGBTQ community” believe Florida’s policies are discriminatory.
DeSantis countered her claim by throwing blame toward media outlets for negatively framing the state’s legislation.
“When we had the fight with Disney over the elementary education, about should you have things about sex and gender identity, telling a second grader that their gender is fluid? We said absolutely not,” DeSantis said. “Parents in Florida agreed and throughout the country, I think, agreed with that, that was termed by the media, as ‘Don’t Say Gay.’”
“The bill did not mention the word gay, I never said that gay people wanted kindergarteners to be told they can change their gender,” he continued. “That was the media that created that and the Left that created that.”
The CBS host asked DeSantis what he thought was the “right age” to talk about gender identity, to which he said teachers and schools allowing children to adopt transgender identities without their parent’s knowledge or consent was “unacceptable.”
“Schools serve an important function, but to be intruding into a family matter like that, I think goes beyond what is appropriate,” he continued. “What does that have to do with math class or English class or history class?”