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Parental consent legislation heads to Health Policy Committee

Kelli Stargel’s bill is a top priority for pro-life groups this session.

Legislation requiring minors get a parent’s permission before obtaining an abortion heads to the Senate Health Policy Committee today.

State Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, says it’s not enough to notify parents or guardians that a child will have an abortion performed. Her bill (SB 1774) will extend a parent’s say on whether such a surgery happens.

The bill serves as a priority for socially conservative groups this year like Susan B. Anthony List and the Florida Family Policy Council.

But critics say many of the young girls obtaining abortions without a parent’s say do so because they have been kicked out of the house or have an otherwise fractured family situation.

The legislation does allow minors to petition the courts in such circumstances and ask a judge to waive the requirement. Stargel also filed related legislation (SB 1778) that will exempt the name of the minor from the public record.

A judge can waive the consent rule if the patient is a victim of child abuse or sexual abuse by a parent or guardian. In fact, the legislation lets a judge make that ruling based purely on determination getting consent isn’t in a minor’s best interest.

The bill also allows abortions to be performed in emergency situations where there’s insufficient time to obtain consent.

Legally, the biggest challenge that may face a consent law down the road remains a 1989 court decision. The majority concluded in In re T.W. that a previous consent law on the books at the time violated privacy rights.

The law didn’t provide the same process for minors to obtain an exception.

In advance of session, Susan B. Anthony List released a poll showing even a majority of pro-choice voters (58 percent) favor a parental consent law.

Companion legislation in the House (HB 1335) already advanced through two committees and heads to the House Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday.

Should Stargel’s bill advance today, it heads to Rules.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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