The Phoenix Flyer

FL Senate poised to pass a bill requiring parental consent for teenagers seeking an abortion

By: - January 29, 2020 6:38 pm

Some 8,000 protestors on both sides of the abortion issue paraded for legislators who convened a special session of the FL Legislature in 1989. Photo by Mark Foley. State Library & Archives of Florida.

After rejecting more than 20 amendments advanced by Democrats on Wednesday, the Florida Senate is ready to vote next week on a bill requiring parental consent for young women seeking an abortion.

The Republican-led Senate is likely to pass the legislation (SB 404) when it meets again on Tuesday.

The legislation requires women under the age of 18 to have the consent of a parent or legal guardian before ending a pregnancy. State law already requires parents to be notified if a teenage daughter is seeking an abortion.

Sen. Kelli Stargel, the Lakeland Republican sponsoring the bill, said requiring parental consent is a way to protect the “fundamental right” of parents to be involved in their children’s lives.

Opponents have argued that the legislation is an unconstitutional infringement on the privacy rights of young women.

Democrats tried to alter the bill with a series of amendments, ranging from lowering the consent age to 16 to requiring more information on contraceptives to be distributed by health and school officials. All the amendments died in voice votes.

The Senate, which has a 23-17 GOP majority, is poised to approve the bill next week, sending it to the House, which has been waiting for a floor vote on its parental-consent bill (HB 265).

Opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, are ready to challenge the law in court, arguing that the state Supreme Court has previously rejected a parental-consent law as a violation of Florida’s unique right to privacy in its state Constitution.

But supporters say they have made adjustments in the proposal, including requiring young women have access to a lawyer if they seek a judicial waiver to have the abortion without a parent’s consent.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis says he supports the measure. If the bill becomes law, Florida will become one of six states requiring both parental consent and notification.

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Lloyd Dunkelberger
Lloyd Dunkelberger

Lloyd Dunkelberger has been covering Florida government for over three decades. He’s reported and edited in Tallahassee for the New York Times Regional Newspapers group, Florida Politics, and the News Service of Florida. He grew up in Jacksonville and Palm Beach County and got his journalism degree at the University of Florida.