Several groups supporting abortion rights are planning a protest on the Capitol to speak out against a measure requiring minors to get consent from their parents before obtaining an abortion (SB 404).
The National Women’s Liberation group is helping to promote the protest. The group describes itself as “a multiracial feminist group for women who want to fight male supremacy and gain more freedom for women.” The group lists abortion and birth control access among its top priorities.
“The Florida Senate is voting on SB 404, the forced parental consent bill, and we need to act,” National Women’s Liberation wrote in a release.
“We’re doing everything we can to get supporters like you to help stop this bad bill and protect our access to abortion. There are advocates traveling from all over Florida to occupy the Capitol!”
That floor vote for the Senate bill, however, is not scheduled for Tuesday. The Senate will have a chance to evaluate the bill on Thursday, Feb. 6 when that body considers measures on third reading.
In addition to the Capitol protest, activists also plan to gather outside Andrew’s Downtown restaurant Tuesday morning from 11 a.m. until noon. Laura Goodhue, Executive Director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said the legislation will be harmful if approved.
“Passing this legislation is the first step in a sinister plan to overturn Florida’s unique privacy protections that prevent politicians from interfering in decisions made between a patient and their doctor,” Goodhue argued.
“The future of abortion rights in Florida is at stake with this bill. This is Florida’s Roe v. Wade.”
The push to protest comes as the Senate version of the bill has already cleared all three committees and heads to the Senate floor. GOP Sen. Kelli Stargel is sponsoring that bill. Republican Rep. Erin Grall is sponsoring the House version (HB 265).
“As you’ve probably heard by now, this legislation is just the first step in a much larger and more alarming plan to overturn Florida’s unique privacy protections that prevent politicians from interfering in decisions made between a patient and their doctor,” the release from National Women’s Liberation added.
“Most young people involve at least one parent in their abortion decision, those who don’t often have good reason not to.”
Critics worry some minors could face repercussions — including abuse — if forced to involve their parents in a situation where they feel uncomfortable doing so.
Stargel’s measure does have exceptions, however. Young girls who fear abuse or believe they are capable of making a decision independent of their parents can go to court to seek a waiver for the consent requirement.
But that exception is not sufficient, according to protest organizers.
“Forcing them to go before a judge, who could decide they’re not mature enough to access an abortion but are mature enough to have a child, delays access, which leads to more invasive, expensive and harder to access later-term abortions,” National Women’s Liberation explained.
“It’s clear this bill is a risk to our reproductive health and privacy rights. That’s why we’re coordinating the effort to bring hundreds of supporters like you to the Capitol! You being there could make all the difference in preserving Florida as a bastion of reproductive health care access in the South.”
A similar measure failed during the 2019 Session. Republicans are prioritizing the measure this year.
But the issue has split Democrats as well. Wednesday, Democratic leader Kionne McGhee said his caucus is not currently taking a position for or against the bill. That’s due to some blue dog Democrats — including members from the black community — who say they support the push for parental consent. Other Democrats strongly oppose the measure.