TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The case of a parentless Floridian teenager seeking an abortion, only for Florida judges to block it, even if only temporary, has bled out into state politics at the primary election level. Just days away from the Democratic Primary for governor, candidate Nikki Fried has laid the blame for the court’s decision on her main election rival, Charlie Crist.
Crist has a long history of working in positions across Florida, from state attorney general to governor as a Republican, before switching parties, now a Democratic lawmaker. He currently serves as the U.S. Congressman for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
A campaign official for Fried, who currently serves as the Florida Agriculture Commissioner, said policies designed and passed by Crist during his time as Florida Attorney General and Governor are to blame for the court blocking the teen’s effort to terminate her pregnancy.
“The shocking ruling that may force a Florida teenager to give birth is built on a law Charlie Crist worked on, defended as Attorney General, and advertised during his run for governor,” Fried’s campaign said in a statement. “The so-called ‘parental notification’ law is one of his signature ‘pro-life’ achievements, according to the State Senator who authored the original bill that has only gotten stricter since it passed.”
Quoting statements in the Miami Herald, Fried’s campaign said a previous candidate to run with Crist defended him, but discussed her sponsoring the parental-notification statute central to the 2022 teen abortion case. Fried’s campaign said it showed Charlie was pro-life, not pro-choice.
In a separate quote, this time pulled from older coverage by the Associated Press, Crist is quoted as saying “If parents must be notified when their children have their tonsils removed, they should be notified in this situation as well,” about the notification rule for abortions.
That rule is from a statute which requires a consent waiver from a parent or legal guardian when a minor who is pregnant seeks an abortion. The law under Crist’s stewardship in 2005 was Senate Bill 1908, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act.
Separately in 2020, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Notice of and Consent for Abortion Act, which added further parental consent requirements and renamed the law. The 2020 version also reclassified parts of the bill, adding criminal penalties if an abortion is performed without parental consent for a pregnant minor.
In their coverage of the case, Politico reported the minor is 10-weeks pregnant, meaning she still has more than a month before the state’s abortion restrictions come into play for her case. She is, according to Politico, in the care of a guardian from the Florida Department of Children and Families, the state’s child welfare agency, and is living with a family member.
Florida Senate Democrat and Party Leader Lauren Book (Broward) reacted to the court ruling in a newly issued statement, saying in part “It is unconscionable for the State of Florida to sentence a ‘parentless’ 17-year-old girl to continue an unwanted pregnancy after she stated she was not ready to have a baby, was pursuing her education, did not have a job, and that the father was unable to assist her.”
Book went further, saying she could not understand the court’s justification, and called the decision “inability to separate church and state.”
In response to the Fried campaign’s comments, the Crist campaign released the following statement.
“The Fried campaign keeps trying to mislead voters to divert attention from her own troubling record of campaigning for anti-choice Republicans, including donating thousands to elect politicians like Attorney General Ashley Moody, who is leading the legal fight to ban abortion in Florida,” Samantha Ramirez, Crist campaign spokesperson, said. “Nikki knows that Charlie Crist is a pro-choice champion. That’s why he has a 100% rating in Congress from Planned Parenthood and NARAL, and the support from strong pro-choice leaders like fmr. CFO Alex Sink and State Rep. Anna Eskamani.”