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Parental Consent For Abortion Bill Passes 2nd Committee Stop, One More To Go

Women stand in a line holding signs that read, "Keep you theology off my biology!" and "Protect, safe, legal abortion."
Lynne Sladky
AP Photo

A bill to require parental consent for a minor’s abortion has one more stop to go before heading to the Senate floor. Meanwhile, a similar bill in the House is already teed up for consideration by the full chamber. 

If passed, the Senate bill would penalize physicians for aborting a minor’s pregnancy without consent from their parents or guardians.

If a minor wants to have an abortion in Florida, her physician must notify her parents or guardians at least 48 hours before the procedure. However, Republicans are pushing a bill to require consent as well. Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) is sponsoring the measure. She says rifts in families happen when teens don’t tell their parents about an abortion.

“So teenagers react in a way to cover their mistakes and they don’t want to tell their parents not realizing that if they do tell their parents often times that parent can be a huge asset," Stargel says.

However, Senate minority leader Audrey Gibson says parents are already notified.

“So to add an additional layer of consent, I’m not sure exactly how that mends or blends folks together,” Gibson says.

The most highly debated topic of the meeting was on a person’s right to privacy. The law prevents the government from interfering with someone’s private life with exceptions. For the most part, parents can raise their children how they wish. Nathaniel Wilcox is a supporter of Stargel’s bill. He says allowing minors to have abortions without consent is a violation of parental rights.

“People in here are asking me to give up my parental rights," Wilcox says. "We have young people in here against this bill. They don’t even have children. They never raised no children. And yet still they’re going to tell me as a grown man, 65 years old, that I need to give up my parental rights—Not a chance!”

Florida’s constitution provides greater privacy rights for minors than the U.S. constitution. According to a state analysis, in 1988 Florida lawmakers tried to mandate parental consent but the Florida Supreme Court struck it down. The court concluded that there must be a compelling state interest for a bill like Stargel’s to pass.

American Civil Liberties Union of Florida’s Kara Gross spoke in opposition to Stargel's proposal.

“If a parent won’t consent and the minor isn’t able to go to court or isn’t able to convince a judge—under this bill that child will be forced to have a child. No child should be forced to have a child against her will. There is no greater governmental intrusion," Gross says.

Megan Petty has a different perspective. At 16 she had an abortion and says because of it, she can’t have children.

“I was not informed of the risk and the ramifications associated with having an abortion. Parents need to be both informed and involved in this serious and life changing decision," Petty says.

According to the National Instiute of Health there's "no evidence of an association between induced abortion and secondary infertility."

After hearing public comments, the committee voted in favor of Stargel’s bill. It’s now heading to its third committee stop. The House version of the is awaiting a vote by the full chamber.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.