GOP-led Florida Legislature approves bill requiring parental consent for minors to get an abortion

By: - February 20, 2020 6:22 pm

Republican State Rep. Erin Grall, (left) sponsor of the parental-consent bill, and Democratic State Rep. Kimberly Daniels, (right) who voted for the bill. Credit: Danielle J. Brown

The Florida House of Representatives passed a controversial bill requiring a minor to have parental consent before receiving an abortion, paving the way for Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign the bill into law.

The Florida Senate previously approved the bill and the state House followed suit on Thursday, with a 75-43 vote.

House members debated over two days and into the early evening Thursday, allowing lawmakers to mention God, the scriptures, various anecdotes and experiences about abortion and concerns that the bill focuses on female teens — but not the boys who impregnated them.

The legislation requires minors to have written consent from a parent in order to terminate a pregnancy. It also penalizes any medical professional who performs a minor’s abortion without parental consent with a third-degree felony.

State Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Republican representing part of Lake and Polk counties, sponsored the Senate bill and led the initial vote in the Senate.

State Rep. Erin Grall, a Republican representing Indian River and part of St. Lucie, sponsored the House bill and led the final vote in the Florida House of Representatives.

Florida lawmakers have seen this legislation before. Last year, the same bill made its way through session until the Senate stalled and the bill was stopped in its tracks.

This year, the bill passed in the House and Senate. DeSantis is expected to approve the bill.

“I also hope that the parental consent bill will make its way to my desk during this session,” DeSantis said at this year’s State of the State address.

Abortion rights advocates from Planned Parenthood protested in early February before the Senate voted to continue pushing the legislation through session.

Prior to the House vote Thursday, lawmakers rigorously debated on the bill from the day before.

Democratic Rep. Tina Scott Polsky, who represents part of Palm Beach, reminded the legislative body of the many reasons why a minor might avoid the guidance of their parents.

Some of those examples included fear of physical abuse, being kicked out of the home, not living with their parents, or having parents who abuse drugs or alcohol.

“This is why every major medical group has voiced their opposition to this bill in favor of the young woman’s physical and mental health,” Polsky said.

Republican Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, who represents part of Lee, spoke against the bill and asked the House to address the real-world implications of this bill.

“We must work with the reality we live in,” Fitzenhagen said. “We cannot legislate good relationships.”

Republican Rep. Rick Roth, who represents part of Palm Beach, offered adoption as a middle ground “good option.”

Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough, who represents parts of Duval County, reminded the Florida House of various laws requiring parental consent to tattoos and ear piercings.

Then, Yarborough compared the situation of a minor seeking abortion to parenting his one-year-old son, saying that it was the parents’ responsibility to stop his infant son from playing with wall outlets even if “[his son] thinks it would be fun.”

While Republicans pushed through the legislation, some Democrats were supportive.

State Rep. James Bush III, a Democrat representing part of Miami-Dade, said he had a moral obligation to support the parental consent bill.

“I have to be on the side of God,” Bush said.

State Rep. Kimberly Daniels, a Democrat representing part of Duval County, talked during the debate about her own abortion at age 15, saying it was a horrible experience.

She said her constituents support the parental consent bill, and added that, “I don’t consider this as an abortion bill.”

Florida Phoenix editor Diane Rado contributed to this report.

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.