Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended a state attorney who had vowed to not enforce the state's new 15-week abortion law.
DeSantis announced the suspension of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren at a news conference Thursday morning.
"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 the event at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban law went into effect July 1. The law is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit from abortion providers in Florida but remains in effect.
The law prohibits abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow exceptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking. Violators could face up to five years in prison. Physicians and other medical professionals could lose their licenses and face administrative fines of $10,000 for each violation.
Shortly after the law went into effect, Warren declared that it was unconstitutional and said he wouldn't press charges against violators of the law, including those who seek or provide abortions.
"With my hand on the Bible I swore to defend the US & FL Constitutions. Florida has a privacy right protecting abortion. Reversing #Roe doesn’t change that. While Tallahassee passed an unconstitutional bill & hopes judges condone it, I’m upholding the law," Warren tweeted.
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But DeSantis said it isn't Warren's job to pick and choose which laws he wants to enforce.
"That is what the legislature has enacted and it's not for him to put himself above that and say that he is not going to enforce the laws," DeSantis said. "We don't elect people in one part of the state to have veto power over what the entire state decides on these important issues."
Warren on Thursday called the suspension a "political stunt" by DeSantis, who is currently running for a second term as governor and has been talked about as a potential 2024 Republican presidential nominee.
"Today’s political stunt is an illegal overreach that continues a dangerous pattern by Ron DeSantis of using his office to further his own political ambition. It spits in the face of the voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve *them*, not Ron DeSantis," Warren tweeted. "In our community, crime is low, our Constitutional rights—including the right to privacy—are being upheld & the people have the right to elect their own leaders—not have them dictated by an aspiring presidential candidate who has shown time & again he feels accountable to no one."
DeSantis said he is appointing current Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to serve as acting state attorney in Warren's place.
Warren was first elected in 2016 and won reelection in 2020.