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On Anniversary Of Roe V. Wade: Parental Consent For Abortion Bill Heads To Senate Floor

Young man stands at podium speaking into several microphone. A crowd is in the back. Reporters are in the front with cameras.
Aileen Perilla
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AP Photo

On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a bill requiring parental consent for a minor’s abortion passed its last committee stop. The measure will now be heading to the Senate floor. 

says Charo Valero, Florida Director of the National Latina Institute,  is speaking at a press conference in the Capitol. Surrounding her are Democratic lawmakers and abortion rights advocates. 

“Today, January 22nd , we commemorate the 47th anniversary of the landmark legal decision Roe v. Wade," she tells the crowd as they cheer. 

woman in dress holds sign that reads, "Keep Abortion Legal."
Credit Aileen Perilla / AP Photo
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AP Photo
Opponents of the SB 404, known as the "parental consent" bill, gather at a press conference at the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 in Tallahassee, Fla. The bill requires girls under the age of 18 get a parent's consent before having an abortion was approved Wednesday in its final committee stop.

Valero and her fellow activists are opposing a bill to require parental or guardian consent for a minor’s abortion. It’s sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland). During the proposal’s last committee hearing, Democratic lawmakers asked a lot of questions.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami) says a bill’s title determines what can be done with it and he worries a last-minute title change to Stargel's proposal will open the door for more issues to be added into the bill. 

“Every proposal related to abortion that might be considered—including a total ban—including what other states have done with trigger laws or six week bans—to be proposed on the senate floor for an up or down vote to expand the scope of the bill to include those things," he says.

Stargel agrees it could happen, but says she’s not planning to add more abortion restrictions.

“I would be very hesitant to add provisions such as you’re talking about which is a total ban—which I think at this point would be deemed unconstitutional," she says. 

crowd of people sit in chairs.
Credit Aileen Perilla / AP Photo
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AP Photo
Attendees fill the room as the state Senate Rules Committee holds a hearing regarding SB 404, known as the "parental consent" bill, at the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 in Tallahassee, Fla. The bill requires girls under the age of 18 get a parent's consent before having an abortion was approved Wednesday in its final committee stop.

Other concerns raised by Democrats include penalties on physicians. If an abortion is happening and the baby is alive during or after the procedure, under Florida law, the physician must take them to the hospital. If the physician doesn’t do that, they get a first degree misdemeanor. Under Stargel’s bill, the penalty increased to a third degree felony. 

“The difference that you’re changing here is from 12 months in a county jail to five years in a state prison system. Is—Is that our intention? Because that’s what this change does," says Sen. Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale). 

“If they do not take care of a baby that is born alive and let it lay there and die on the table than yes they would be subject to five years," says Stargel.

She notes staff working with a physician who does this would also be subject to a third degree felony.

The Committee voted 9-7 in favor of the bill with Democrats opposed. It is now heading to the floor. Senate President Bill Galvano says in about two weeks, the full chamber will vote on the proposal.

“I think it’s an important piece of legislation and I’m glad to see it come out of the rules committee and we’ll take it to the floor next week," Galvano says.

He says it’s likely the House will pick up the Senate version of the measure.