By: Erin Grall | News Service Florida
April 17, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NSF) -- In a proposal that likely would lead to another court battle over abortion, the Florida House late Wednesday approved a bill that would require minors to obtain parental consent before they could have abortions.
Lawmakers debated the bill for more than three hours before voting 69-44 to pass the measure (HB 1335). The Senate is moving forward with an identical bill (SB 1774), though it has not come up for a vote on the Senate floor
A parental-consent requirement, if ultimately approved by lawmakers, would likely spark a lawsuit that could wind up before a revamped Florida Supreme Court, which struck down a parental-consent law in 1989.
State law currently requires parents to be notified if their daughters are planning to have abortions, but the bill goes further by requiring parental consent. The bill includes exemptions for situations such as minors who have health emergencies or who already have children.
Bill sponsor Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, argued that parents should be involved in helping minors make decisions about abortions and touted the bill as a parental rights measure.
But Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, said the proposal “attacks” girls and women.
“I see nowhere in this bill where we discuss the responsibility of the male. How will the parents of the male be involved in this?” Valdes asked.
Grall replied: “Unfortunately, the parents of the male will not be involved in this.”
Democrats had filed a half-dozen amendments to the measure, but all but one were withdrawn.
Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, tried unsuccessfully to add an amendment that would have required the Office of the State Courts Administrator to develop step-by-step guide detailing procedures for seeking a judicial waiver. Such a waiver process would allow minors to go to court to seek exemptions from the requirement to get parental consent.
The office also would have been required to publish information on accessing the names and contact information for attorneys who provide services on a pro bono basis to minors seeking judicial waivers.
The amendment was shot down on a voice vote.
People on both sides of the issue say a parental-consent law could be a test case for the Florida Supreme Court, which was overhauled in January when new Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed three justices, each more conservative than the justices they replaced. Grall, an attorney, denied that the consent proposal runs afoul of the state Constitution.
“My litmus test on any bill that I ever file will be constitutionality,” Grall said.
Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota, thanked Grall for her “brave leadership,” in bringing the bill forward.
“These are serious decisions we are allowing minor children to make without their parents. And that should not be the law in the state of Florida,” he said.