ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida attorney general vowed Sunday to fight Gov. Ron DeSandis’ suspension from office over his promise not to enforce a 15-week abortion ban and support gender transition therapy for minors .
Andrew Warren, a Democrat who was suspended last week from his dual seat as district attorney in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, said in a Facebook post. video message and the news outlet on Sunday plans a “vigorous defense” by his legal team, but did not elaborate.
“I’m not going down without a fight,” Warren said in the video. “I refuse to let this man trample on your freedoms to speak your mind, make your own health care decisions and count your vote.”
Warren was suspended Thursday by DeSantis, a Republican seeking re-election in November and a possible 2024 presidential candidate, who cited dereliction of duty and other alleged violations. The governor argued that this is because Warren signed statements with dozens of other attorneys general nationwide pledging not to bring criminal cases against people who seek or provide abortions or gender transition treatments.
Warren argued Sunday that the governor was essentially seeking to override the will of Tampa-area voters who elected him in 2016 and 2020.
“I was elected because the people of this county share my vision for criminal justice, trust my judgment and have seen your success,” Warren said in the video. “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and that’s exactly what I did. DeSantis is trying to take my job away because I’m doing my job.”
Under Florida law, the Republican-controlled state Senate has the power to reinstate Warren or ratify his removal from office. Warren could also go to court.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment Sunday. DeSantis said Thursday, however, that Warren was acting “within the law” and “demonstrated a lack of competence to be able to carry out” the duties of his office.
“I don’t think the people of Hillsborough County want to have an agenda that’s basically woke, where you decide that your view of social justice means that certain laws shouldn’t be enforced,” the governor said.
Florida’s new abortion restriction went into effect on July 1 and remains the subject of a lawsuit by abortion providers and allies. It bans 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 the pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.
Offenders may face up to five years in prison. Doctors and other health professionals could lose their licenses and face administrative fines of $10,000 for each violation.
Florida has not enacted laws criminalizing gender transition treatments for minors.
DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to serve in Warren’s place during his suspension.