Legislation requiring guardian permission for minors seeking abortions moves through Florida House

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 71,050 abortions were performed in Florida in 2017, and abortions in Florida make up 8.2% of the abortions in the U.S. Minors in Florida may soon need to seek parental consent in order to get an abortion. Bill HB265 has already made its way through the Florida House of Representatives, and legislators are seeking to push it through the Florida Senate as well.

According to the Miami Herald, minors are already required to inform their guardians of their decision to have an abortion. Under the new legislation, however, minors would be required to not only make their parents aware of their intent to abort but also gain their approval.

The bill “requires physicians to obtain notarized written consent of the parent or legal guardian before inducing or performing termination of the pregnancy of a minor; provides exceptions to consent requirement; provides criminal penalties.”

While the bill was approved by the House, it was not advanced when voted on by the Senate. In an attempt to prevent the bill from dying, the House Health and Human Services committee voted 12-6 to have it debated in the House again.

According to WGCU, Southwest Florida’s PBS channel, the bill was sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Fla. and was only stopped by one committee. This is rare for bills and hints at the legislation being a high priority for Florida Republicans.

The bill would have to pass through three more committees to be approved by the Senate.

Those who support the bill say it will allow families to make life-changing decisions together, as well as ensure the safety of girls seeking abortions. Those who do not want to see it pass say they fear it will prevent girls from being able to have access to abortions.

Furthermore, Florida Democrats argue that the bill is unconstitutional. In 1989, a similar law was struck down by the state Supreme Court for violating privacy rights. WGCU reports that since Gov. Ron DeSantis has replaced three state justices, the court has a more conservative leaning than it did when the 1989 bill was stopped.

Florida Republicans, however, want parents to be allowed “back into this conversation with their daughters,” Grall said. 

According to the Gainesville Sun, twenty-one states have a parental consent requirement. Supporters of the legislation say that in a state where kids need consent to take medicine at school, parents should have a say in whether their child receives an abortion.

Kara Gross, the legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, told the Sun that “it is an undue burden on a young woman’s constitutional right. No child should be forced to have a child against her will.”

According to Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, “If you decide to have an abortion and are under 18 years of age, Florida has a parental notification law that requires the health care provider to tell your parent or legal guardian 48 hours (2 days) before you have an abortion.” This excludes those who have been married or divorced, already have children, have a medical emergency, have a court waiver, or have been emancipated by a court.

The bill has not been passed yet. It will be reconsidered when the new state legislative session starts in January 2020.

Featured photo: Unmodified photo by Wikimedia Commons used under a Creative Commons license

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