SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A bill that would require parental consent before minors could get abortions in the state passed a key Florida House committee Tuesday.
The House Health and Human Services Committee approved the measure by a vote of 12 to 6. The measure is poised to move quickly in the House, as the bill is now ready for the full chamber to consider when the 2020 legislative session starts in January.
State law currently requires parents to be notified if their minor daughters are planning to have abortions, but the bill would go further by requiring parental consent. Under it, physicians could be charged with third-degree felonies if they perform abortions on minors without obtaining parental consent.
State Representative Mike Hill, a Republican from Pensacola, is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
"Parents should be involved in that entire process. It is their child. It is important that they give their consent before a life is terminated," he argued. "Should a young lady have an unexpected pregnancy, and she is considering getting an abortion, then at least the parents have to be notified and give their consent."
Bill opponents say many girls don't have positive family environments to talk about the topic. State Senator Lori Berman, a Democrat from Lantana, feels the legislation is just another way to chip away at abortion access in Florida.
"Under the guise of parental rights, this is a dangerous bill to reduce access to reproductive rights," she opined.
Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, added, "If this bill becomes law, access to safe and legal abortion for every Floridian is at risk in the state of Florida."
A parental consent requirement, if ultimately approved, would likely spark a lawsuit that could wind up before the Florida Supreme Court. Governor Ron DeSantis appointed three justices this year to create a solid conservative majority on the court, leading to questions about whether justices would be more likely to approve abortion restrictions than in the past.
“It [the Supreme Court] has taken a decidedly more conservative posture,” said Rep. Hill. “I think that should this case come before the Supreme Court, I think they are going to rule in a conservative manner, which typically means to protect life.”