A Florida Senate committee passed a bill Monday to require a parent’s consent before an underage girl can have an abortion.
The state Senate Health Policy Committee approved Senate Bill 1774 in a 5-4 vote, the Orlando Sentinel reports. State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, is the sponsor. The bill now moves forward to another Senate committee.
Florida currently requires that a parent be notified before a girl under age 18 has an abortion. Stargel’s bill would strengthen protections for minors and their unborn babies by requiring a parent’s consent. It includes exceptions for medical emergencies.
“We have parental notice. All that does is allow the child to walk into the family and say, ‘I have made this decision and I am notifying you.’ Then they are on their way,” Stargel said. “This is strengthening the family, by allowing the family to have a conversation about the subject matter and come to a conclusion.”
John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, praised the legislation in a statement to the local news.
“Abortion is an irreversible, significant medical procedure that is fraught with medical, psychological and emotional consequences,” Stemberger said.
But abortion supporters criticized the bill as an attempt to limit abortion access. State Sen. Lori Berman claimed the current system is working, and there is no need for a change.
“Have you heard from medical people or any people who have said this change is needed, when the system is currently working?” she asked.
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Florida lawmakers previously passed very similar legislation, but abortion activists challenged it and the state Supreme Court struck down the law. The newspaper speculated that the new legislation has a greater chance of being upheld now that there are more conservative justices on the state high court.
Parental involvement laws have strong public support, and 37 states currently require it in some form before a minor aborts her unborn baby. This year, however, Illinois, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are considering pro-abortion bills to end their parental involvement laws.
Polls show strong support for parental involvement laws. A Gallup poll found 71 percent of Americans favor laws requiring parents’ involvement in a minor’s abortion decision.
Parental consent laws can help protect young girls from sexual abusers who often use abortion to cover up their crimes. The laws also help protect vulnerable teens from making a hasty, uninformed decision to abort their unborn babies – something they may later regret. And research shows that these laws help save unborn babies from abortions.
Despite the strong public support for these laws, abortion activists frequently help teens bypass these protective measures. In 2013, the National Right to Life Committee found in one state in a period of 4 1/2 years, there were 3,573 judicial petitions to bypass parents and only nine were denied.