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Minors Seeking Abortions Would Need Parental Consent Under House Measure

abortion florida parental consent
Evan Vucci

A measure (HB 1335) that would require minors to receive parental consent before getting an abortion cleared its second state House committee Wednesday. 

Nearly two dozen people lined up to speak on the bill; some yelled, others fought back tears.

In the end, Rep. Erin Grall’s (R-Vero Beach) bill passed on a 10-6 party-line vote.

Under the measure, a doctor would need parental consent or a court waiver to perform an abortion.

A judge could grant a waiver only if it's found that the minor is "sufficiently mature" enough, it's in her best interest or there is a threat of physical or emotional abuse from the minor's parents.

Grall's bill expands the state’s parental notification requirement, where a parent must sign a form acknowledging he or she is aware of the procedure.

Minors can get a judge to waive that requirement in certain but limited circumstances.

Under this measure, anyone under 18 years old would need parental approval.

Democrats, like Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa), worry this bill won’t hold up to precedent set by the state and federal supreme courts.

“This policy has been ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court," said Driskell. "Under our constitutional system, the appropriate way to overturn prior precedent is by a constitutional amendment." 

"And in fact, in 2012 the Florida voters rejected such a constitutional amendment that would restrict abortion rights and reject the court’s holding regarding that right of privacy.”

Lawmakers first tried to require parental consent in 1989. The state’s high court struck down the law largely because the measure lacked a judicial override provision.

The court also ruled the Legislature failed to show a lack of compelling state interest – a precedent set for all abortion restrictions in Florida.

Legislators tried – and failed – again in 1999.

Yet Grall is confident this version will hold up to the court’s standards.

“The state does further a compelling interest here in protecting the immature minor, the integrity of the family and the fundamental right for parents to raise their children," said Grall. "I believe the case law surrounding those concepts has only become stronger in the last number of years as we realize the government continues to try to interfere with that relationship.”

Rep. James Grant (R-Tampa) said lawmakers should not be beholden to legal precident. Instead, Grant said, lawmakers should focus on their own principles.

“There was well-established supreme court precedent in this [country] that said people of one race could not go to school with people of another race," said Grant. "So we’re left with the difficult challenge, or the question, that says ‘to what end do we put the full face and credit in a judicial opinion?’ "

Grant says abortion aren’t the only way out of pregnancy and suggests strengthening the adoption system and social services.

Others, like Rep. Bob Rommel (R-Naples), turned to religion.

"God is the person that allows people to be pregnant," said Rommel. "We have to trust that he knows best – he knows best – and he wouldn’t have people being pregnant if he didn’t want it to happen.” 

Grall is no stranger to pushing abortion restrictions. Last year, shesponsored a billthat would have outlawed a common third-trimester procedure. It died in the Senate.

As the secretary read the final vote, some in the audience let out cheers. Outside, others opined about the influence of religion in politics. 

The bill has one more stop in the House before heading to the floor.

The Senate companion has not yet been heard by any of its committees, and is just one of six abortion bills under consideration this session.

Shawn Mulcahy is a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU. He graduated from Florida State University in 2019 with majors in public relations and political science. He was previously an intern at WFSU, and worked as an Account Coordinator at RB Oppenheim Associates.