Advance Notice: Briefs

Billboard outside Florida airport warns travelers of DeSantis’ anti-abortion policy, urges them to go to Michigan

By: and - May 30, 2023 3:31 pm

The Committee to Protect Health Care, representing medical caretakers, has posted this billboard outside Orlando International Airport. Credit: CPH

Following travel advisories warning visitors that Florida might not be a welcoming place for Black, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ people, now comes a warning that anyone capable of getting pregnant might also be better off in another state. webiste

Michigan, to be precise, according to a billboard just erected outside Orlando International Airport. It features Dr. Tim Johnson, an OB-GYN in Ann Arbor, Mich., who provides abortions, and slams Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis. The sign urges viewers:

“TURN AROUND! Ron DeSantis is attacking your reproductive rights. Head to Michigan for Patient-Doctor Medical Decisions.”

The reference is to Florida’s new six-week abortion ban, signed into law by DeSantis following its passage by the state Legislature this spring. It will take effect only if the Florida Supreme Court upholds the state’s earlier-passed 15-week abortion ban. That court has had the case since January and has yet to schedule oral arguments.

The billboard steers viewers to, sponsored by the “the physician led, health care advocacy organization, the Committee to Protect Health Care,” according to a press release by that group that’s led by Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician and former Democratic congressional candidate.

That site draws attention to the chasm between Florida’s governor, who began a swing Tuesday through early Republican presidential decision states, and Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has been a staunch supporter of reproductive rights.

In 2022, Whitmer backed a successful state constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights (Proposal 3), while DeSantis compared the Florida Supreme Court’s existing abortion-permissive legal precedents to China and North Korea, the website notes. The site notes Whitmer’s long history of supporting reproductive rights, including her 2022 lawsuit to stop Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban from going into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In April, Whitmer signed legislation repealing the abortion ban.

“This is a long overdue step that proves that when we keep fighting to protect everyone’s ability to make their own decisions about their bodies we can win,” said Whitmer at the bill signing.

DeSantis, who formally announced his presidential run last week, doesn’t much talk about the six-week ban anymore, amid speculation it may hurt him in presidential swing states.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses attendees at a Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan lobby day in Lansing on May 2, 2023.

Before formally declaring for president, DeSantis last month did a couple of high-profile speaking engagements in Michigan at Hillsdale College and the Midland County GOP breakfast where he inveighed against the “woke” left; the concept of “diversity, equity and inclusion;” the public education system he views as promoting a Democratic agenda; conversations around gender and systemic racism; and the “legacy media.”

There’s also been speculation about Whitmer running for president in the future after she won reelection by almost 11 points last year. She is a co-chair of President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign.

A version of this story first ran in the Advance‘s sister outlet, the Florida Phoenix.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.

Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 23-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on C-SPAN, MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQ people, the state budget, the economy and more. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 100 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive.