Florida House passes bill requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions

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FILE – In this Aug. 21, 2019, file photo, a sign is displayed at Planned Parenthood of Utah in Salt Lake City. An appeals court is considering whether to block a Trump administration rule that bans taxpayer-funded health clinics from referring patients for an abortion, a rule that has already prompted many providers, including Planned Parenthood, to leave a longstanding federal family planning program. Eleven judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, in challenges brought by 22 states as well as Planned Parenthood and other organizations. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Girls younger than 18 would need consent from a parent or guardian before getting an abortion under a bill approved by a Florida House committee Tuesday that will head to a full chamber vote when the annual session begins in January.

The bill was given only one committee stop — a rarity for legislation and a signal that it’s a high priority for Republican House leadership. The House Health and Human Services Committee approved it on a party line vote.

The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Erin Grall would require a minor to get written, notarized permission from a parent or legal guardian to obtain an abortion. Florida already requires that doctors notify parents before performing an abortion on a minor, but parental consent isn’t required. The House passed an identical bill earlier this year, but the Senate refused to consider it.

“I pray that our colleagues in the Senate will take up this issue this year and allow the state of Florida to put parents back into this conversation with their daughters,” Grall said.

Democrats argued that the bill would violate the state’s constitution. The state Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that a similar law violated the state’s constitution on privacy grounds. But the court is now much more conservative since Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis replaced three liberal justices after taking office in January.

Democrats also said it might force girls to seek illegal, unsafe abortions and could expose them to violence from parents who are upset that they are seeking an abortion. Others argued that girls might be victims of the same parents they need to seek consent from to get an abortion.

“The conversation that we should be having is about sex education. If we’re going to have this conversation, we should be talking about birth control,” Democratic Rep. Shevrin Jones said. “We should be talking about paid maternity leave, health care, child care and education.”

Minors would be able to petition a judge to make an exception to the law, as they can now with the parental notification law.

Committee chairman and Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues said he has to physically go to his son’s school to authorize over-the-counter pain medication when the boy suffers migraine headaches.

“What I fail to comprehend is how a child can’t be given an aspirin by another adult without the consent of the parent … but that same child can have a surgery by another adult without the parent even knowing about it,” Rodrigues said.

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