On Wednesday, after three hours of debate, the Florida House passed a bill (69-44) requiring parental consent before an abortion facility commits an abortion on a young woman under 18 years of age. A similar bill is pending in the state Senate. According to ABC News, House Bill 1335 “would require that a minor get written, notarized permission from a parent or a legal guardian to obtain an abortion. Florida now only requires that parents be notified that their child is seeking an abortion.”
In addition ABC News says, “The bill also increases penalties for health practitioners who violate current law requiring that an infant born alive during an abortion must be cared for and taken to a hospital. The penalty for violations would go from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a [$]5,000 fine.”
Rep. Erin Grall, the bill’s sponsor, gave a compelling argument as to why parental consent is needed before a minor obtains an abortion for an unplanned pregnancy — the fact that parents are in a special position in a child’s life to give advice and guidance, especially in such a situation. “It is my belief the parent needs to be involved in the decision-making of the child,” Grall stated, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Those opposed to the bill argued that it is unconstitutional, and claimed that if a child is old enough to become pregnant, then she is old enough to make decisions about her pregnancy.
Similar to current Florida law, the bill allows minors to obtain a judicial bypass to obtain an abortion without parental consent in special cases, such as if the minor is a victim of abuse. According to comments made by Rep. Grall, approximately 14% of abortions obtained by minors in 2017 (205 out of 1,500) in the state were obtained through judicial bypass. The Tampa Bay Times notes:
Those exceptions would include cases where evidence shows minors are likely victims of child abuse or sexual abuse by a parent or guardian, or a judge otherwise decides it is in their best interest. The bill would also allow waivers if judges find “clear and convincing evidence” a minor is mature enough to decide to obtain an abortion.
Approximately 70,000 abortions take place in Florida every year.
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