Florida Senate passes bill requiring parental consent for abortion

abortion
Parental consent has roiled the Capitol.

Notification may no longer be enough. Underaged women who seek abortions may need parental sign-off soon.

The Senate on Thursday passed by a 23-17 margin its most controversial bill (SB 404) of the 2020 Session, moving the hot-button social issue of “parental consent” for youth abortions to the House.

A robust debate, which lasted more than an hour, preceded a party-line vote.

Exceptions can be made in the case of medical emergency or by judicial waiver. Courts would have three days to decide.

Bill sponsor Sen. Kelli Stargel framed the bill as protecting minor girls and protecting the rights of parents to “raise their children as they see fit.”

Stargel noted her own experience as a pregnant teenager facing that decision. The Senator had the baby despite her mother’s objection.

Democrats took issue with the legislation.

Sen. Gary Farmer said the bill abrogates the constitutional right of privacy and violates international law, noting that parental notification is already the law.

Sen. Lauren Book said she doesn’t “think the state of Florida should be forcing children to have children.”

Sen. Kevin Rader cited “significant consequences” from parents who oppose their children’s abortions, noting potential “abuse” and being evicted from their homes as fallout.

Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson cautioned against government control of “family dynamics,” noting that Democratic amendments were turfed in committees.

Sen. Bill Montford called the issue “gut-wrenching.” He said he comes from a conservative background but that as a longtime educator had to deal with teens who were pregnant and did not want their parents to find out.

“There’s some parents that are not parents,” said Montford, a former school principal and superintendent. “There are just some parents that simply cannot or will not make good decisions for their own children.”

No one went as far as Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, who said the bill was part of the Republican “plan to dismantle abortion rights in Florida.”

Republicans defended the legislation.

Sen. Aaron Bean said it was “in the best interest of children,” noting that a “baby … a middle schooler” may be the one facing that abortion decision.

“Let’s let the parents be parents,” Bean said, “and make that decision together.”

Sen. Anitere Flores noted that an abortion is a “major medical procedure … with lifelong effects,” and a “forced conversation” should be required.

Florida voters in 2004 passed a constitutional amendment that led to a requirement for parents to be notified before minors have abortions, but a consent requirement would be more restrictive. The current law has a process in which minors can go to court to avoid notifying their parents about having abortions — a so-called “judicial bypass” that also is part of the consent proposal.

The Florida Supreme Court in 1989 struck down a parental consent law, finding that it violated a right to privacy in the state Constitution. Democrats and Republicans disagreed Thursday about whether the new measure would be found constitutional as it faces what are widely viewed as inevitable legal challenges.

The ACLU issued a blistering statement about the “unconstitutional bill banning abortions for minors unless the minor can convince the state to allow them to have an abortion …  a system where minors will be forced to have children against their will and stripping young people of their constitutionally protected right to end an unintended pregnancy.”

After the vote, Senate President Bill Galvano expressed confidence that the bill would survive an inevitable challenge in the courts, regarding the privacy clause.

“There are myriad reasons why this is a good policy initiative … to empower families to make decisions together on such an important subject,” said Galvano, a lawyer. “I am confident that this legislation will move forward and be successfully upheld.”

But Sen. Lori Berman, a Lantana Democrat who is a lawyer, said voters in 1980 approved placing a privacy provision in the Florida Constitution and that the privacy rights apply to minors. She and other Democrats also said the current notification requirement means parents and children are having conversations about abortions.

“This bill is not about parental knowledge, conversation or guidance,” she said. “Instead, it is an unconstitutional bill, created to force minors to have children against their will.”

The bill has yet to get a floor hearing in the House, despite that being the more conservative chamber.

However, House action is but a matter of time, Speaker Jose Oliva said Wednesday.

“I’m not particularly interested in the optics of what gets there first or not. I know that the Governor’s eager to sign it. It’ll probably get to him faster at his own request. We’re happy that we’re passing it. We think it’s long overdue. The order in which it gets signed, once it’s a law, it’s a law.”

The bill will have Democratic support.

Rep. Kim Daniels, a self-described “Blue Dog” Democrat from Jacksonville, is co-sponsoring the bill (HB 265) for the second straight year.

Daniels had a botched abortion that required medical attention while in high school, an experience that informs her belief that parents should consent to their children having abortions.

House Democrats, in deference to the divisions in the caucus, have yet to take a collective position on the bill and appear unlikely to do so.

___

The News Service of Florida contributed to this post.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


6 comments

  • Florida Voice for the Unborn

    February 6, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Since reporter A.G. Gancarski failed to include any quotes from our media release, here it is in its entirety:

    “Florida Voice for the Unborn thanks the Florida Senate for passing Senate Bill 404 (Parental Consent for Abortion), and, in particular, Republican Senator Kelli Stargel, who sponsored this commonsense, life-saving legislation.

    The fact is, there is widespread bi-partisan support among the citizens of Florida for the involvement of parents in their minor child’s life-altering decisions. Parents are the ones who need to be involved – not the bloody merchants of death at Planned Parenthood! The legislation passed today will allow parents to help their minor daughter choose life when faced with an unexpected pregnancy.

    The Florida House of Representatives now needs to swiftly move ahead with passing parental consent for abortion, so that Governor Ron DeSantis can sign it into law. Unwarranted delays are unacceptable, as unborn children’s lives are at stake.”

    Florida Voice for the Unborn is a new grassroots Tallahassee-based lobbying group that only focuses on pro-life issues impacting the unborn. It is strictly independent, and its work is guided by faith in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. Florida Voice for the Unborn supports all peaceful efforts by elected officials and others to end abortion and save lives. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @UnbornVoiceFL.

  • Bill Newton

    February 6, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    In case anyone doesn’t realize this, the teenagers in question will still get abortions without their parents consent if that’s what they want. They always have. They’ll go out of state, or to back alleys, or try it themselves with some risky thing they look up on the internet. All this bill does is put their lives at greater risk. You don’t have to believe me. Just ask anyone old enough to remember the good old days when abortion was illegal. What did girls do then? They still got abortions and they died or got sterile or injured in the process. It is despicable and horrendous that these misguided legislators would make things so much worse, so much more dangerous for young women already facing a very difficult choice.

    • Florida Voice for the Unborn

      February 6, 2020 at 8:33 pm

      Bill, your post seeks to excuse the inexcusable — that is, the murder of innocent unborn babies. The fact is, LEGAL abortion kills unborn babies AND harms their mothers (and sometimes kills the mothers, also). The American abortion industry is all about $$$, and the abortionists employed are from the very bottom of the barrel of the “medical establishment.” Operation Rescue has done a great job over the years documenting the horrendous conduct of many of these quacks.

      When the parental-consent-for-abortion legislation becomes the law of the land in Florida, the vast majority of minors will not seek to evade its requirements. In fact, in states where parental-consent laws are in place, the overall abortion rate goes down — so this Florida legislation will end up SAVING lives while we continue to work and pray for the day when Roe v. Wade is demolished!

    • gary

      February 7, 2020 at 1:54 am

      Sounds good, Bill! Thank’s!

  • jon

    February 7, 2020 at 1:52 am

    WINNER WINNER… CHICKEN DINNER!

    A win for what’s right! What’s right is parents find out how poorly they raised their little liberals!!

Comments are closed.


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