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Scott hammers Democratic opponent as ‘liar’ over abortion attack

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who is up for reelection this fall, says his Democratic challenger is a “liar” after she accused the first-term senator of supporting a national abortion ban, a charge that Democratic candidates will push against Republicans in Senate battlegrounds this year.

Scott, who is coming under criticism from former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) over abortion rights, is going on offense to argue that Democrats don’t want any real limits on abortions and would allow the procedure right up until the moment of birth.

“She’s a socialist, and she’s a liar. She doesn’t worry about the truth. She’ll say whatever it takes to try and win an election. I’m pro-life. I’m pro-baby, and I’m pro-family. I love my grandchildren; I love my daughters. I’m pro-babies,” Scott said in an interview with The Hill responding to Mucarsel-Powell’s attacks.

Scott said while he opposes abortion in most cases, “there has to be exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.”

He argued that his position on the hot-button issue is more nuanced than those of President Biden, Vice President Harris and other Democrats.

“Harris and Biden and my Miami opponent believe there should be no limits — zero limits, zero – no limits [on abortion] all the way to the moment of the due date, nine months,” he said.

“They want limitless abortions, and she’s a radical extremist. She’s using politics as usual,” he added of his opponent. “She lies when she says I support a national ban. She lies when she says Republicans want to put women in jail. She lies when she says Republicans want to ban IVF,” Scott added, referring to in vitro fertilization.

A spokesperson for Mucarsel-Powell’s campaign said Scott’s “toxic agenda is deeply unpopular” and record on abortion “speaks for itself.”

“He voted for a national abortion ban and said he would sign Florida’s dangerous abortion ban if he was governor. Floridians want a senator who will stand up for women’s freedom to make their own decisions — not take them away — which is why they will fire Scott and elect Debbie Mucarsel-Powell,” said Lauren Chou, a campaign spokesperson.

Democrats say late-term abortions are extremely rare and are usually performed only when there is a serious medical complication and the mother’s health is at risk.

KFF, an independent health policy research group, says abortions after 21 weeks of pregnancy represent only 1 percent of all abortions in the United States.

Scott made his comments after Mucarsel-Powell, the likely Senate Democratic nominee in Florida, asserted in a Miami Herald op-ed that Scott would support a national abortion ban if former President Trump is elected and Republicans win control of the Senate and keep the House.

She also noted that Scott, who served as Florida’s governor from 2011 to 2019, said he would have signed the six-week statewide abortion ban that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last year.

“Scott and Trump would ban abortion nationwide, and they’ve laid out concrete plans to stop women in all 50 states from accessing medication abortion,” she wrote.

Mucarsel-Powell pointed out that nearly a million Floridians have signed a petition to amend the state constitution to protect reproductive rights in the state but warned “even codifying abortion in our state constitution wouldn’t stand up to a national federal abortion ban.”

Raising alarm about a possible abortion ban is a strategy that Democrats are using in other Senate battlegrounds, such as Michigan.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) warned this week that a national abortion ban could wipe out an amendment adopted to the state’s constitution guaranteeing the right to abortions and other reproductive health care.

But Scott says he believes the regulation of abortion should be left to the states and the federal government shouldn’t have a role.

“I believe states ought to make the decision on how to regulate abortion. I also know that you got to make adoption easier and more affordable. We’ve got to make adoption a real option,” he said. “My heart goes out to any women that’s going through this. I know it has to be an unbelievably difficult issue for a woman.”

Scott is not listed as one of nine Senate co-sponsors to the 15-week national abortion that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced in September of 2022.

Graham has not yet introduced an updated version of the bill in this Congress.

The Mucarsel-Powell campaign pointed out that Scott co-sponsored the abortion ban that Graham introduced in January of 2021, which had the backing of many GOP senators, including fellow Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R).

That bill would have banned abortion after 20 weeks unless the procedure was necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman, and would have included exceptions for rape or incest against a minor.

It would have imposed prison terms of up to five years and fines on violators.

Scott was one of 51 Republican senators to vote to advance Graham’s 20-week abortion ban in February of 2020. Two Democrats also voted to advance the bill: Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who is up for re-election in Pennsylvania, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who will retire from the Senate at year’s end.

Scott and other senators who voted to advance Graham’s 20-week abortion ban did so more than two years before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and gave power to the states to handle abortion restrictions.

Since that decision, many Senate Republicans now say abortion restrictions should be left to states.

Asked whether Trump should explicitly oppose a national abortion ban, Scott, a Trump ally, said: “Everybody’s got to run their own race and sell what they believe.”

“I’m sure as he goes to the race, he’ll be clear about exactly where he is,” he added.

Trump said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in September that he didn’t care where abortion is regulated at the federal or state level.

“It could be state, or it could be federal; I don’t frankly care,” Trump told NBC anchor Kristen Welker.

Asked at the time whether he would support a 15-week abortion ban, Trump replied: “Let me just tell you what I’d do. I’m going to come together with all groups, and we’re going to have something that’s acceptable.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said even if Republicans win back control of the Senate, a national abortion ban would have no chance of passing Congress because it wouldn’t get 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster.

On the subject of Florida’s six-week abortion ban and whether he would have signed it into law as governor, Scott said: “I signed pro-life legislation, which I thought was best for the state [as governor.] I’ve continued to fight for pro-life policies.”

As governor, Scott signed a bill in 2016 to reduce funding for Planned Parenthood, ban the sale or purchase of fetal remains from abortions and require doctors to have transfer and admitting privileges with hospitals in order to perform abortions.

In 2015, Scott signed legislation requiring women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion, a law that was challenged by a Gainesville women’s clinic but later held up in court.

Updated at 4:55 p.m.

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