Prosecutor who refused to enforce Florida abortion ban suspended by Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has suspended a county state attorney for refusing to enforce a ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Republican DeSantis announced the suspension of Democrat Hillsborough attorney Andrew Warren on Thursday (5 August), also citing his support for gender-affirming medical care for trans adolescents.

“When you flagrantly violate your oath of office, when you make yourself above the law, you have violated your duty, you have neglected your duty and you are displaying a lack of competence to be able to perform those duties,” DeSantis said at a news conference in a county sheriff’s office.

Florida’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks went into effect on 5 July, after a legal challenge was appealed. It features several exceptions, such as allowing procedures to take place if the pregnancy is endangering the individual’s life.

A separate law bans abortion after 24 weeks.

Warren had reportedly signed statements, along with other prosecutors across the US, pledging to not use their offices to pursue criminal cases against those who seek to have or provide abortion in the wake of Roe v Wade’s nullification, as well as other clauses on gender-affirming care.

DeSantis criticised Warren for signing the statements, saying they “prove that Warren thinks he has the authority to defy the Florida legislature and nullify in his jurisdiction criminal laws with which he disagrees”.

Andrew Warren responding to DeSantis' order of suspension.

Andrew Warren responding to DeSantis’ order of suspension. (Screenshot/Twitter)

The move comes amid Desantis’ attempt at re-election in the 2022 Florida gubernatorial election due to take place on 8 November. He has repeatedly used “anti-woke” rhetoric to gain support among the notoriously politically-flippant state.

The Republican also mentioned his decision to suspend the Democratic attorney – who was voted in in 2016 and again in 2020  – was part of a pushback against what he believes is “woke” corruption.

“I don’t think the people of Hillsborough county want to have an agenda that is basically woke, where you’re deciding that your view of social justice means certain laws shouldn’t be enforced,” he continued.

But Tampa Democrat Fentrice Driskell isn’t having the suspension, saying Warren had used prosecutorial discretion appropriately. She called the move a “shocking political attack” on an officer “serving the people of Hillsborough county”.

In the same week, DeSantis called for doctors who performed gender affirming surgery on trans youth to be sued.

“They talk about these young kids getting gender-affirming care,” DeSantis told a press conference on Wednesday (3 August). “What they don’t tell you what that is is that they are giving very young girls double mastectomies, they want to castrate these young boys.”

Florida youths and young people across America cannot currently get gender affirming surgery, nor can they obtain permanent hormonal treatment until over the age of 18.