Florida Legislature Passes Bill Requiring Parental Consent for an Abortion

The Florida Legislature passed a bill on February 20, 2020, that requires a girl under the age of 18 to get parental consent to have an abortion. The House voted in favor of the measure 75-43. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had asked lawmakers to send him the bill when the last legislative session began last month in Tallahassee. The legislation expands on a current law that requires a girl’s parents to be notified before she can have an abortion. 

The very heated debate lasted nearly four hours. The bill states that a girl can ask a judge for a waiver from the law in cases of abuse, incest or when a parent may not be fit to grant the child permission. There was opposition from Democrats who felt if minors are made to negotiate the legal system when they are already scared and ashamed they may resort to illegal ways of terminating a pregnancy.

There were also concerns about whether a girl will get kicked out of the house or beaten by her parents if she tells them she is pregnant. Arguments were made by Republican senators that just because there are some bad parents, it doesn’t mean the rights of the good ones should be taken away, especially when it comes to making a decision about their own child.

Republicans argued that if children need permission from a parent to go see an R-rated movie, it only makes sense for the law to require girls who are minors to have to get permission to make the life-altering decision of an abortion.

Doctors would face up to five years in prison for a third-degree felony if they were to perform an abortion illegally for a girl under 18.

The Florida Legislature approved a similar parental consent law in 1979, but it was struck down a decade later by the Florida Supreme Court. The constitutional issue has been addressed in the current bill by including the judicial waiver.Florida law currently requires that parents or guardians be notified if a minor gets an abortion. Minors can also obtain a judicial waiver to bypass that requirement. The change to existing law adds Florida to the list of five other states — Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming — that require both parental consent and notification. The mandate will go into effect on July 1. It is certain to be challenged in court, but the current makeup of the state Supreme Court is overwhelmingly conservative.