Florida Legislature moving to ensure minors cannot have abortions without parental consent

The Florida Legislature is likely to adopt a bill requiring girls under age 18 to obtain parental consent to have an abortion.

Companion parental-consent bills are among the first bills of the 2020 legislative session. They’ve fast-tracked through committees and are likely to be adopted: House Bill 265, sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, and Senate Bill 404, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel.

Senate Democrats submitted 28 floor amendments to Stargel’s bill – none of which were adopted, as Republicans hold a majority.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is likely to sign the final bill into law before the session adjourns March 13.

Florida would become the sixth state to require parental consent for minors to have an abortion.

The move by the Republican trifecta seeks to address a Florida Supreme Court ruling, which struck down the state’s parental-consent law in 1989.

Under current state law, parents can only be notified if an un-emancipated minor plans to have an abortion. The new bills proposed, SB 404 and HB 265, changes this requirement from notification to obtaining consent from a parent or legal guardian.

The bills include what is called a “judicial bypass,” which allow un-emancipated girls to seek permission from a judge for an abortion if she cannot get consent from her parents.

The bill allows “a parent to veto a young woman’s decision to have an abortion,” Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Lighthouse Point, said.

“It’s not only the right of the unborn, but the right of parents to raise their children,” Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said. “We should be encouraging parental involvement with their children in manners of morality and religion, and this bill promotes that.”

Both bills also add protections for infants born alive. Aborting (killing) infants born alive would be a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

In 2018, there were 1,398 abortions involving minors out of the total 70,239 abortions performed in Florida. Of them, 193 sought a judicial bypass from judges to avoid notifying their parents.

While many Senate Democrats oppose the bills, Rep. Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville, said she supports parental consent. Daniels, is a former Jacksonville city council member and founder of Spoken Word Ministries.

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