The Florida Senate passed an important bill Thursday to protect the rights of both parents and children throughout the state.
The legislation, which requires an underage girl to obtain a parent’s consent to have an abortion, passed in a 32-17 party-line vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats against, News Service of Florida reports.
Sponsor state Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, who struggled through a teenage pregnancy herself, said the bill will protect young girls and strengthen families.
“I think this is strengthening the family and making sure that when you have those difficult situations that there is a conversation. A discussion,” she said.
Florida Senate Bill 404 requires 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 a parent. It also increases the penalties for not caring for an infant born alive during an abortion.
Hopes are strong that the bill will become law. Florida House leaders said they plan to move the bill forward as soon as it arrives, and pro-life Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis supports it.
“We’re happy that we’re passing it. We think it’s long overdue,” House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes said Wednesday, according to the local news.
The Miami Herald reports Stargel defended her legislation on the Senate floor from attacks by abortion activists and Democrats.
“This is about whether or not you’re going to have adults involved in difficult decisions with children,” she said.
According to the report, about 1,500 underage girls have abortions in Florida each year, and about 200 request judicial waivers.
Prior to the vote, Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, slammed the parental consent bill as a government intrusion into a private matter, according to the News Service of Florida.
“I don’t believe that the state of Florida should be forcing children to have children,” Book said.
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Here’s more from the report:
But Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, said her late husband, an obstetrician and gynecologist, delivered babies of teens as young as 13. She questioned how 13-year-olds can make decisions about having abortions, saying they “can’t even decide what they are going to wear tomorrow.”
“We need parents to be part of that decision, to be there for their children,” Harrell said. “So when we have children having children, we need to have the parents involved.”
Abortion advocacy groups have been lobbying aggressively against the common-sense measure. According to The Center Square, the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates criticized lawmakers for requiring that a parent be involved.
“If a young person is not communicating with their guardians about their reproductive choices, there is a reason, and that reason is usually because they do not feel safe enough to do so,” spokeswoman Laura Hernandez said earlier this year.
But Stargel said parental involvement is important. Earlier, she 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 reported earlier this year.
“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.”
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.
Currently, 37 states require some form of parental involvement 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.
Three decades ago, the Florida Supreme Court struck down a similar parental consent law, but pro-life lawmakers believe Stargel’s bill will be upheld, if challenged. The state high court also has a conservative majority now.