Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Florida's unconstitutional parental consent abortion bill falters in Senate committee

Posted By on Tue, Apr 30, 2019 at 11:59 AM

click to enlarge Minors should be studying, not raising babies. - PHOTO VIA ADOBE STOCK
  • photo via Adobe Stock
  • Minors should be studying, not raising babies.
In the final week of Florida's legislative session, it appears a bill has stalled that would have required minors to get parental consent before having an abortion.

Florida law already requires parents to be notified if their daughter is planning to have an abortion, but SB 1774 goes further by requiring parental consent. The House version, HB 1335, requires written and notarized consent, and doctors who perform an abortion on a minor before obtaining parental or guardian consent could be charged with a felony and face five years in prison.

The Senate bill includes exemptions in some situations, including minors who have health emergencies or who already have children.

However, opponents such as Kimberly Scott, director of public policy with the Florida Alliance for Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said the policy would be a safety risk and would keep vulnerable teens from accessing timely medical care.



"Especially for those that might be abused or neglected or are homeless or foster youth that unfortunately may not have a good relationship with their parents, you know they have dysfunctional family environments," Scott said.


Supporters claim parents have a unique perspective to advise a child. While the Republican-led House voted 69-44 largely along party lines for the bill, the Senate version still has two committee stops, and is one vote shy of the required supermajority to send the bill directly to the Senate floor for a vote.

The lawmaking session ends Friday, May 3.

Minors who do not wish to involve their parents can seek a waiver from a court to bypass the consent requirement, but they would have to convince a judge that they are mature enough to choose abortion for themselves. Scott said requiring consent only adds unnecessary barriers to an already difficult and emotional process.

"It stigmatizes, one, this procedure," she said. "But two, it alienates these minors, [causing them] to seek perhaps other unsafe methods of getting what they are trying to get."

A previous law was ruled unconstitutional in 1989 by the Florida Supreme Court over concern for privacy rights. If the bill were to pass this legislative session, it could stand a chance of being upheld in a Supreme Court challenge, since the high court has three new conservative justices.

Leading medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, all oppose parental-consent laws.

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