Florida Senate Committee Passes Bill Affirming Parental Rights When Teens Want Abortion

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 10, 2019   |   10:14PM   |   Tallahassee, FL

Florida lawmakers moved forward with a bill Tuesday to protect parents’ rights by requiring an underage girl to receive a parent’s consent before having an abortion.

Florida Politics reports a Florida Senate committee voted 6-3 to move the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

Senate Bill 404, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, would require a girl under 18 to have at least one parent’s permission before going through with an abortion. The bill includes exceptions for medical emergencies and allows a judge to grant permission instead if family abuse is involved.

Stargel told lawmakers that she once was that pregnant teenage girl. Unmarried and afraid, Stargel said she considered having an abortion but chose life for her child instead, the Miami Herald reports.

“When I told [my mother] I wanted to have my child, she supported me,” Stargel said.

She said her bill would help ensure families have a conversation about pregnancy and abortion before the teen makes a final, irreversible decision.

State Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala Republican, agreed, saying parents have a responsibility to be part of important decisions in their children’s lives.

“We’ve talked about parental rights, but it’s really about parental responsibility,” Baxley said. “It’s about the responsibility of parenting and being responsible for everything a minor child does. That’s parenting, and it’s serious, and there’s a reason that minors can’t give consent, because they’re children and they need parents.”

Senate Democrats on the committee opposed the bill after delaying it earlier this fall. According to the report, state Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, argued that the bill may not protect victims of abuse or human trafficking.

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“Abortion still happens, and it always will happen, but something really — I believe — scary happens when you create restrictive laws on abortion access, when you put young girls and women in a desperate position,” Book said. “Abortion gets pushed into the shadows and it becomes very very dangerous.”

But without parental consent, young girls can be abused and then forced into abortions to cover up the abuse from their parents.

Parental consent laws help protect the health and safety of minors. They can help young victims of sexual abuse who may be forced or coerced into an abortion by their abuser. 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.

News outlet predicted that the bill could pass the state legislature this session. A Florida House committee passed a companion bill in October.