Fl Senate approves parental-consent bill; opponents fear an “abortion desert”

State Sen. Kelli Stargel, sponsor of parental-consent bill. Credit: Danielle J. Brown.

In a civil but strenuous debate, the Florida Senate Thursday voted 23-17 to approve a controversial bill that requires parental consent for a minor to get an abortion.

The vote came after a crowd of protesters in and around the Capitol rallied for and against the bill earlier this week.

And approval of the legislation sets the stage for the Republican-led state House to approve the bill as well. Gov. Ron DeSantis also is supportive of the so-called parental-consent legislation.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, was fearful that the Florida legislation will “open the doors to overturning Roe v. Wade,” according to a written statement.

“If that happens, Florida could restrict abortion access like our neighboring states and turn the entire southeast into an abortion desert,” Goodhue said.

SB 404 requires written consent for a minor to receive an abortion and punishes medical professionals who conduct an abortion on a minor without parental consent with a third-degree felony.

Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel, representing part of Lake and Polk counties, sponsored the bill and hopes the legislation will ensure the rights of parents to “raise their children as they see fit.”

Sen. Gary Farmer, a Democrat senator representing part of Broward Country, said that some senators attempted to amend the bill to consider the mental wellbeing of minors. The amendment failed.

“Which furthers my point that this bill is not an attempt to protect our children, but rather to deny them access to care,” Farmer said.

Farmer also highlighted the bill’s lack of resources and support for the minor and their child after birth.

“Being pro-life is many different things. Pro-life is recognizing that not every child is safe within every family, and not every parent has the best interest for their child at heart.”

Sen. Aaron Bean, a Republican representing Nassau County and part of Duval County, spoke in support of the bill. He referenced Florida legislation requiring parental consent for minors to get an ear piercing or a tattoo.

“In Florida now, middle schoolers—babies—can go make a life altering decision without mom or dad,” said Bean.

He argued that if a minor cannot make a decision such as getting a tattoo on their own, then they are not able to request an abortion without parental involvement.

Current Florida law requires parental notification before a minor receives an abortion but does not necessitate parental consent.

Sen. Lauren Book, a Democrat representing part of Broward County, believes that legislation should take cues from leading medical associations.

“We should not go against the advice of every single leading medical organization in the U.S.,” said Book.

She referenced several medical organizations that oppose parental consent laws to abortions, including American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Psychological Association.

“I don’t believe that the state of Florida should be forcing children to have children,” said Book.