Florida Senate passes parental consent requirement

TALLAHASSEE  |  A News Service of Florida report reveals the Florida Senate passed a bill that would require parental consent before minors could have abortions Feb. 9.

The 23-17 vote tees up the measure for the Florida House, which is almost certain to pass it, Florida News Service reported. The bill would then go to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who used part of his State of the State address last month to urge lawmakers to send it to his desk. 

At each step in the legislative process, the measure sparked debate about whether lawmakers should place additional restrictions on abortions and the role of parents in helping teens decide whether to end pregnancies. Supporters pointed to what they described as life-changing decisions about having abortions and said parents need to be involved. Proponents said the bill would give parents veto power over decisions by teens about whether to have abortions.

Florida voters in 2004 passed a constitutional amendment that led to a requirement for parents to be notified before minors have abortions, but a consent requirement would be more restrictive. The current law has a process in which minors can go to court to avoid notifying their parents about having abortions — a so-called “judicial bypass” that also is part of the consent proposal.

The Florida Supreme Court in 1989 struck down a parental-consent law, finding that it violated a right to privacy in the state Constitution. Democrats and Republicans disagreed Thursday about whether the new measure would be found constitutional as it faces what are widely viewed as inevitable legal challenges.

The House voted 69-44 last year to pass a parental-consent bill, which was not taken up by the Senate. House leaders fast-tracked this year’s version, sending it to only one committee.