This year, abortion opponents across the country have doubled-down on their efforts to attack Roe v. Wade, passing ban after outright ban on abortion care. This comes after decades of anti-abortion politicians chipping away at abortion access and pushing care out of reach for so many – especially young people.
Florida has a shameful history of anti-abortion politicians targeting young people with cruel and arbitrary abortion care restrictions. The state already forces doctors to notify a parent before a young person can receive care.
And this year, Florida’s anti-abortion legislators took this harmful restriction a step further – Florida’s House passed HB 1335, which required a physician to obtain written consent from a parent before providing abortion care. Thankfully, it didn’t make it through the state Senate, in large part due to the zealous advocacy of reproductive rights advocates and supporters.
While we celebrate this important win, we also know that Florida’s existing parental notification law remains in effect and continues to harm Florida youth and that opponents of safe and legal abortion will surely be back for another attempt to pass forced parental consent.
While most young people do talk to their parents about their decision to seek abortion care, those who do not involve a parent typically avoid doing so due to fear of harm. For example, many young people who do not tell their parents report fearing violence from a family member or fear being kicked out of their home. It is unacceptable that Florida politicians are trying to put vulnerable young Floridians in this situation. All young people, no matter their circumstances, deserve access to the full range of reproductive health care.
Evidence shows that parental involvement laws do not increase the rate at which young people tell their parents about their pregnancies or abortion care. And indeed, the necessity and safety of confidential abortion care for young people is based on decades of sound science, with the nation’s leading medical organizations opposed to mandatory parental involvement in abortion care decision-making.
The failure to guarantee young people confidential and safe access to abortion care causes real harm, especially for those already marginalized. Parental involvement laws force young people to travel outside of the state, delay care, incur additional costs to obtain care, or forgo care altogether. And getting an abortion in Florida is already difficult – over the last decade, Florida legislators have enacted a gauntlet of unnecessary restrictions to block access to abortion care.
Moreover, due to the Trump administration’s recent attacks on immigrants and their access to health care, the one-in-eight young Floridians who have an immigrant parent might not seek care for fear that identifying their parent may result in them being detained or deported.
Ultimately, restrictions on young people are part of a larger anti-abortion goal to limit autonomy and dignity in decision-making and dismantle meaningful access to abortion throughout the United States. Indeed, this year’s wave of bans on abortion reveal that the true goal of anti-abortion politicians and those who support them is to criminalize all abortions and punish those who would seek them.
To the 7 in 10 people in this country who believe in the right to abortion – now is your time to act. Get involved with an organization advancing reproductive rights, such as the statewide Floridians for Reproductive Freedom. Join your local abortion fund. Support the providers in our state. And lift up the voices of young people – valuing our young people means respecting their autonomy in decision-making and involving them in the policies that impact their health and well-being.