Yesterday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that requires minors to have parental consent before having an abortion. This bill goes into effect today and could significantly obstruct abortion access in the state.

The law states that a physician must “obtain written consent from a minor’s parent or legal guardian before performing or inducing a termination of the pregnancy of a minor”, with the exception of a medical emergency. A minor could also petition for a judicial waiver, which requires a judge to evaluate the child’s age, intelligence, emotional development and stability, credibility, responsibility, and assessment of short- and long-term risks. Previous to this bill, minors were required to notify their parent or guardian at least 48 hours before the abortion.

Throughout his election year, DeSantis touted this legislation as one of his goals. DeSantis did not make a statement concerning the bill; rather, Senate President Bill Galvano (R) voiced his praise of the bill. He argued that “the serious and irrevocable decision to end a pregnancy involves undergoing a significant medical procedure that results, in many cases, in lifelong emotional and physical impacts,” and “the parents of a minor child considering an abortion must be involved in such a substantial and permanent decision.”

Meanwhile, opponents of this bill assert that it will “endanger teens who could be subject to retribution or abuse if their parents find out they are pregnant or considering an abortion”. In a statement, Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said that “This law will put already at-risk young people in even greater danger at the worst possible time”. Galvano, in his statement, said that for “those who are in a situation of abuse or where parental consent is not in the child’s best interest, the bill provides a judicial waiver process that still involves the intervention of an adult.” Planned Parenthood indicated that research on this process reveals “little to no information” from court clerks, and that the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on court access will make matters worse.

Fraim also stated, “What’s worse, it could open the door to a reinterpretation of our constitutional right to privacy and the right to a safe and legal abortion in Florida.” Moreover, a similar law was struck down in 1989 by the Florida Supreme Court, but now, the court is composed of a solid conservative majority.

Sources: Florida Senate 6/30/20; Health News Florida 7/1/20; Sun Sentinel 6/30/20; Tampa Bay Times 6/30/20

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