Florida lawmakers moved forward with a bill Wednesday to require parental consent before an underage girl has an abortion.
The legislation passed the state Senate Judiciary Committee in a 3-2 vote Wednesday, just a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis publicly announced his support, according to the Miami Herald. A similar bill currently is before the state House.
Florida 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 of the girl’s parent.
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. “Everyone thinks that their parent is going to kill them or kick them out. I was shocked at my mother’s response as a child when I went through this.”
She said her bill would help ensure families have a conversation about pregnancy and abortion before the teen makes a final, irreversible decision.
Her bill quickly is gaining support from state leaders, including the governor, Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker José Oliva, the newspaper reports.
“I hope that the Legislature will send me this session the parental consent bill that last year was passed by the House but not by the Senate,” DeSantis said Tuesday during his State of the State address.
According to The Florida Phoenix, since 2009, more than 3,000 underage girls in Florida have used the judicial waiver, rather than notify their parents about their abortions. A legislative analysis found that 93 percent of their requests were approved.
Meanwhile, abortion activists slammed the legislation as “dangerous.”
Kara Gross of American Civil Liberties Union of Florida claimed parental consent laws drive young girls to seek back alley abortions, News Service of Florida reports.
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“The reality is if a minor does not want to have a child, they will find a way to make sure they don’t,” Gross said. “And if they aren’t able to access the care they need with the support of their parents, they will utilize a less-safe method.”
Trish Neely of the Florida League of Women Voters even claimed that the bill will “lead to more girls dying in their basements of sepsis because they are afraid” to tell their parents that they are pregnant, according to The Center Square.
But the opposite is true. Parental consent laws help protect young girls. 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. Recently, however, Illinois, Massachusetts and Rhode Island considered 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.