Florida is joining in a wave of anti-abortion activity across the South.
Just one day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis promoted the issue in his State of the State address, Republican lawmakers continued moving forward on Jan. 15 with a proposal to require parental consent before minors could undergo abortions.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 for the measure (SB 404), now one step away from the full Senate. A similar House bill (HB 265) is ready for a vote in the full House.
The Judiciary Committee meeting drew a crowd that illustrated the deep divide over abortion laws. Supporters of the proposal said requiring parental consent before teenage girls get abortions is a part of “fundamental” parental rights.
“There’s no muddy water here. This is very clear,” Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said. “This is how do you see parental rights and, more importantly, parental responsibility. There’s a reason that children have parents. They’re children. They’re minors. They cannot offer consent. They cannot contract business.”
Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, disagreed, saying the bill is “dangerous to minors.”
“The reality is if a minor does not want to have a child, they will find a way to make sure they don’t,” Gross said. “And if they aren’t able to access the care they need with the support of their parents, they will utilize a less-safe method. This bill won’t prevent abortions, it will prevent safe and legal abortions and greatly endanger our youth.”
Florida already has a requirement for parents to be notified before minors have abortions, but a consent requirement would be more strict. Current law has a process in which minors can go to court to avoid notifying their parents about having abortions.