Parental consent for abortion bill delayed before first senate vote

Tallahassee, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - A bill that would require women under the age of 18 to receive parental consent before getting an abortion was delayed in a Senate committee before a vote could be taken Tuesday.

An abortion consent bill was stalled in the Senate Tuesday / Source: Wolfgang Moroder / CC BY-SA 3.0

It’s a minor victory for pro choice advocates, but supporters vow the bill will cross the finish line this legislative session.

Requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions has been debated by Florida lawmakers since the 1980s.

The constitution’s strong privacy clause stopped the legislation following a court ruling in 1989, but there’s growing concern from pro-choice groups that the bill might finally pass in 2020, triggering a new constitutional fight over privacy.

“Parental consent legislation is part of a much larger agenda to ban abortion across the State of Florida,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani.

Opponents voiced their concerns ahead of the legislation’s first of three Senate committee hearings.

“Forced parental consent laws like Senate Bill 404 have been shown to put youth at risk and even more danger,” said Lauren Brenzel with the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.

About two dozen opponents each filled out 30 appearance cards before making their way to the hearing.

The bill was the only item on the agenda.

Of 16 amendments, Democrats filed 15.

One by one they were struck down, but ultimately the committee ran out of time and was forced to adjourn without taking a vote.

Bill sponsor Kelli Stargel said when she got pregnant as a teen, she found discussions with her mother vital.

"I feel very strongly that this is in the best interest of our children. In the day and age that we're in there's many factors that put a wedge in that family union and our kids feel isolated. I believe that contributes to a lot of the ills that we're seeing with the mental health, various things,” said Stargel. “This is something to support the family and require the kids to have a conversation about something so weighty with their parents. It's disappointing that we weren't able to pass it today.”

The delay of a vote hasn’t put a damper on pro-life advocates, who vow the bill will pass in 2020.

“We're going to come back and we're going to come back stronger than ever,” said Anthony Verdugo, founder of the Christian Family Coalition Florida.

Stargel said the bill addresses issues raised by the Supreme Court in 1989 by including exemptions for emancipated minors and for emergencies.

The bill is already ready for a floor vote in the House.

While it’s getting early hearings in the Senate and has the Senate President Bill Galvano's support, Galvano has vowed to vet the bill thoroughly.