Underage girls seeking an abortion in our state will soon be required to get a parent’s approval under a bill the Florida House passed mostly along party lines on Thursday.
The vote was 75-43 to approve SB 404, with two Republicans voting against the measure and four Democrats casting votes in favor of it.
The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law.
He had asked lawmakers to send him the bill during last month’s State of the State speech, which marked the beginning of the legislative session.
According to bill sponsor and Republican Rep. Erin Grall of Vero Beach, the reasoning for the new law is to place more authority in parents and to strengthen the family.
She explains, “We have taken the focus off the family far too long to the detriment of our society. I refuse to accept that we should diminish the rights of all parents in the raising of their child because of the acts of a few.”
Under the current law, parents and legal guardians must be notified when their child is trying to get an abortion, but do not need to approve the procedure. A waiver process is available through the courts for a pregnant minor with extenuating circumstances. The new bill would apply that same waiver process for parental consent.
Democrats argue the waiver process could be intimidating for a young girl and add that the notification process already involves parents. They believe that lawmakers should invest in sex education programs and birth control to reduce the number of abortions.
“What is the purpose of this? What is the problem we are seeking to solve? We already have parental notification,” says Democratic Rep. Geraldine Thompson, of Windemere. “We come back year after year after year to talk about abortion when we ought to be talking about how to prevent unwanted pregnancies.”
The Florida Legislature enacted a similar parental consent law in 1979. However, the state Supreme Court struck it down 10 years later, ruling that a woman’s right to privacy also extended to pregnant minors.
Supporters of the new bill say that constitutional issue has been addressed through the waiver process allowing abortions in medical emergencies without the need for parental notification.
With DeSantis’ signature, SB 404 will become effective July 1.