Parental Consent for Abortion Bill Sails Through Florida Senate

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CN) – The Florida Senate passed a controversial abortion bill on Thursday requiring minors to obtain parental consent before undergoing the procedure.

The Florida House is expected to approve the measure next week before sending it to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has said he will sign it.

The Republican-led Legislature has long pursued parental consent legislation since the Florida Supreme Court struck down a similar law in 1989 over privacy concerns.

The Florida Capitol building, with the historic statehouse in the foreground. (CC BY 2.5, Link)

In 2004, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment that requires parents to be notified before a minor has an abortion, but that law stops short of mandating a parent’s consent.

The bill, SB 404, prohibits a doctor from performing an abortion on a minor unless he or she receives a notarized, written statement from the child’s mother, father or legal guardian. The legislation allows for exceptions in a medical emergency. The child can also ask a judge for a waiver to the parental consent requirement.

Physicians who perform an abortion without parental consent could face a third-degree felony charge.

In addition, the bill mandates health care workers attempt to save the life of an infant born alive during an attempted abortion and transport the baby to a hospital.

If SB 404 becomes law as expected, it will certainly face a court challenge.

Past anti-abortion legislation, such as a 24-hour waiting period passed in 2015, faced lawsuits that ended up at the Florida Supreme Court, which frequently struck down such restrictive measures.

But after DeSantis’ election in 2018, he appointed three new justices that swung the high court in a more conservative direction.

The debate on the state Senate floor lasted over an hour with sometimes emotional lawmakers debating the merits of the bill. The legislation passed 23-17 along party lines.

“This bill is about protecting minors who are pregnant,” said state Senator Kelli Stargel, a Republican from central Florida who sponsored the bill. “These young women need their parents’ guidance, and parents have a fundamental right to provide that guidance.”

Stargel talked about her own experience as a teenage mother.

“I did not want to tell my mother that I was pregnant,” Stargel said through tears. “Probably the hardest conversation I’ve ever had with anybody in my life. But I’m so glad that I did.”

State Senator Gary Farmer Jr., a Democrat from Broward County, said not every parent has “the best interest of their child at heart.”

“This bill is not about solidifying parental rights,” Farmer said. “This bill is not about protecting the health and safety of a young woman. This bill is about forced pregnancies on women who do not wish to have a child.”

Twenty-one states require parental consent for a minor to have an abortion, though only three require consent of both parents according to the Guttmacher Institute, which promotes reproductive rights. Five states – Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wyoming and Utah – require both parental notification and consent.

%d bloggers like this: