Florida Lawmakers Pass Abortion Parental Consent Bill

by Kristine Cannon
Activist 'keep abortion legal'
Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The ‘parental consent’ bill requires girls under 18 receive permission from a parent before having an abortion

Following a debate that lasted nearly four hours, a new Florida bill (SB 404) passed on Feb. 20 states that girls under the age of 18 must receive parental consent before they can have an abortion. The House voted 75-43, and Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law.

Florida has now joined 26 other states in requiring that at least one parent give written permission authorizing a doctor to terminate the pregnancy of a minor.

Republican Rep. Erin Grall, who sponsored the bill, said that by including parents in this decision, “we empower the family. “What we are talking about is a child, and here we’re are talking about a child who is carrying a child,” Grall says.

Republicans’ argument was that children need a parent’s permission to go on a school field trip, and they can’t go to an R-rated movie without a parent or guardian, so why should they make a life-altering decision on their own?

“We require parental consent for a minor to get a driving learner’s permit because it is common sense. It is not common sense to suggest that getting a learner’s permit is a less significant life decision than a child getting an abortion,” said Republican Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez. “A parent guiding their children through major life decisions is a good thing.”

Although the new “parental consent” bill does have a provision that allows a girl to ask a judge for a waiver from the law “in cases of abuse, incest or when involving a parent could cause more harm than allowing the procedure,” opponents rightfully argued that this bill could drive already “scared and ashamed” minors to illegal abortions, AP reports.

Among those opponents is Democratic Rep. Susan Valdes who said that “we are codifying into law that someone else can force a girl to have a child she does not want to have.”

“I worry that many girls will, when deprived access to a safe termination of pregnancy, take the risks of finding an unsafe, dangerous and untested method of terminating their pregnancies,” Valdes continued.

As for those doctors who do perform abortions without the parental consent of a girl under 18, they would face up to five years in prison for a third-degree felony.

According to Grall, though, while bad parents — those who might kick their children out of the home — do exist, that doesn’t mean their rights to take part in the decision should be taken away.

“We hear the stories about the bad parent, the human trafficking, the intolerant parent, the abusive parent, the parent who will kill their child. I refuse to accept that we should diminish the rights of all parents in the raising of their children because of the acts of a few,” Grall said.

The bill will become law July 1, once DeSantis signs it.