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Controversial Abortion Bill Advances in Senate

January 15th, 2020 by Jake Stofan

A bill that would mandate parental consent for minors seeking abortions has cleared another pivotal hurdle in the State Capitol.

Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee focused heavily on whether the legislation would pass constitutional muster.

The State Supreme Court struck down a law in 1989 that required minors to get their parents’ consent before having an abortion.

Now, more than 30 years later, lawmakers believe they’ve come up with a new version that can be upheld.
“This bill also provides a judicial waiver process and a medical emergency exception in accordance with the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in In Re: T.W.” said Senate Sponsor Kelli Stargel.

Before clearing its second senate committee lawmakers heard from both sides of the debate.

Passions were high.

“I’m a 62-year-old woman who had an abortion at 16 and have not been able to have a child since,” said Brandon Resident Megan Petty.

“The implementation of this bill will not lead to stronger families, it will lead to more girls dying of sepsis in the emergency room after attempting a self administered abortion,” said FSU Medical student Rachael Sabra.

Supporters pointed to US Supreme Court rulings that put an emphasis on the rights of parents to make decisions for their children.

“The Supreme Court of the United States in 2000 declared that the liberty interests of the parents in the care, custody and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by the court,” said Constitutional Attorney KrisAnne Hall.

Opponents argued the legislation violates the state constitution’s privacy clause the same as the law struck down in 1989.

“It is an undo burden on a young woman’s constitutional right to determine for herself whether and when to become a parent,” said Kara Gross with the ACLU.

The bill needs to clear one more Senate committee before it’s ready for a floor vote.

The Governor throwing his weight behind the bill during his State of the State address sends a strong message to senators.

Senator Stargel said public opinion is also on her side.

“It’s not a partisan issue, it’s more about having the family have the opportunity to have a discussion with their minor daughter when she’s pregnant,” said Stragel.

Opponents did score a minor victory Wednesday.

Democrats on the committee were able to force an amendment that would have brought the Senate version inline with the House’s to be withdrawn over procedural objections.

But Executive Director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates Laura Goodhue argues, the real battle will be in the courts.

“This really is the end game, is to open up the privacy clause in Florida’s constitution to expand upon and pass more abortion restrictions,” said Goodhue.

Opponents worry the State Supreme Court’s newly conservative leaning may increase the likelihood the legislation could stand this time around.

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