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Passage Of Parental Consent Bill Draws Strong Reaction On Both Sides

Abortion rights activists pose outside of Rep. Jackie Toledo's office after voicing dissent to the bill requiring parental consent before minors get abortions on Thursday, Feb. 20.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Proponents and critics reacted strongly to the Florida Legislature’s passage of a measure that will require minors seeking an abortion to get their parents' approval.

On Thursday, the Florida House of Representative passed the contentious bill by a vote of 75-43.

The Senate passed the bill earlier this month, and it now awaits the signature of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who urged passage during his State of the State address.

RELATED: House Passes Bill Requiring Minors To Get Parental Consent For Abortions

The victory comes after tense debates Wednesday and 14 amendments from Democrats that were each shot down, according to News Service of Florida.

"We can't imagine what people have been through having not walked in their shoes," said Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, during debate on the House floor. "Once again, that is where the Constitution has to be the referee."

My amendment would've provided compassion for victims of rape, incest, or human trafficking.

We didn't win this time, but we won't relent.— Representative Fentrice Driskell (@FentriceForFL) February 21, 2020

As debates continued on the floor Thursday afternoon, local groups spoke out against the passage of the bill in front of Rep. Jackie Toledo's office in Tampa.

Ellie Levesque, president of Planned Parenthood Generation Action's USF chapter, said the bill was unnecessary.

"They're already involving their parents in this discussion," said Levesque, a USF junior interdisciplinary sciences major. "If they aren't, then it's for good reason because they're in an unsafe situation."

Progress Florida, a nonprofit organization advocating progressive policies, organized the news conference.

"It is unbelievable to me that the legislature has once again shown that it's so out of sync with what the majority of Floridians want," said Amy Weintraub, the reproductive rights program director for the group. "We need more access to healthcare, not less, and it's just ridiculous what they've done."

Weintraub said Progress Florida and its national and state partners are ready to sue and take the issue to the state's Supreme Court.

"They say this bill is about teen health or family communication. It's not," Weintraub said. "It's a Trojan horse of a bill and they want us to take it to the Supreme Court to see if the newly conservative court will see it as unconstitutional and that'll open the door to a whole bunch of other anti-abortion legislation that will work toward making it illegal in our state.

"Their goal is to overturn Florida's version of Roe v. Wade."

Rep. Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville, co-sponsor of bill, said the bill is more about parental consent, not abortion. Daniels said she received an abortion at 15 years old and her experience "forced [her] to support this legislation."

"Having an abortion without your mother at 15 is nothing to play with," she said. "What I see is every time folks don't agree, it becomes unconstitutional. Parents must be on the frontlines."

Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, who sponsored the bill, said during her closing argument that the decision helps put the power to the parent who is the "only one who has the best interest of their child."

After the bill passed, Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, tweeted:

Florida law requires parents to be notified before minors can have abortions, but a parental-consent requirement would be more restrictive, News Service of Florida reported.

Physicians who perform abortions on minors without parental consent would face third-degree felony charges.

Consent would not be required if a minor goes through the judicial bypass process or during medical emergencies where there is insufficient time to gain consent.

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Jonah Hinebaugh is the WUSF social media intern for spring 2020.