Florida House lawmakers passed legislation Wednesday to require pregnant minors to obtain a parent’s consent before they can have an abortion.
Florida currently requires that a parent be notified before a girl under age 18 has an abortion. The bill would strengthen protections for minors and their unborn babies by requiring a parent’s consent. It includes exceptions for medical emergencies as well as for situations where there is evidence that the minor is being abused by a parent.
The state Senate is considering similar legislation.
“It is my belief the parent needs to be involved in the decision-making of the child,” said state Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, the sponsor of the bill.
The Tampa Bay Times reports about 1,500 minors have abortions in Florida annually.
Most House Democrats opposed the measure. According to the Times, state Reps. Evan Jenne and Fentrice Driskell said the bill could take away young women’s right to privacy.
Grall responded, “The minor does have a right to privacy but it is not absolute.”
State Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota, also defended the legislation, saying: “These are serious decisions we are allowing minor children to make without their parents. And that should not be the law in the state of Florida,” according to the News Service of Florida.
Florida lawmakers previously passed very similar legislation, but abortion activists challenged it and the state Supreme Court struck down the law. However, many believe the new legislation has a greater chance of being upheld now that there are more conservative justices on the state high court.
The abortion chain Planned Parenthood is lobbying against the new effort in Florida.
Parental consent laws “make young people less safe and more likely to face a hard decision alone and afraid,” said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “It is important to recognize that parental consent laws in no way guarantee that a young person will talk to her parents or guardians before she has an abortion. All forced parental consent laws do is put at-risk youth at even greater risk.”
But parental consent laws do help minors, and they have strong public support. They 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.
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.