DeSantis quietly signs abortion parental consent bill; opponents expect to challenge the law in court

Some 8,000 protestors on both sides of the abortion issue paraded for legislators who convened a special session of the FL Legislature in 1989. Photo by Mark Foley. State Library & Archives of Florida.

Gov. Ron DeSantis quietly signed legislation Tuesday that requires parental consent for a pregnant minor to get an abortion.

Critics say it’s unconstitutional, and the ACLU of Florida called the law a “sham.”

Under the new law, if a Floridian minor is pregnant from any circumstances, including through acts of rape and incest, she must receive written parental consent in order to terminate the pregnancy.

If the parent disagrees with an abortion, and the child does not wish to be pregnant and give birth to another minor at a young age, the only legal option is to seek a judicial waiver.

Any doctor who attempts to provide an abortion to a minor outside of parental consent could be charged with a third-degree felony.

Although the governor held a public bill-signing ceremony Tuesday for two water-quality measures, his office announced the abortion bill signing via a press release that tucked it among 14 separate pieces of legislation.

The measure (SB 404) was sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, who represents part of Lake County and part of Polk County.

Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida was critical, saying in a statement:

“We know this new law will be devastating to minors and at-risk youth. It’s clearly unconstitutional and contrary to the will of Floridians. Our young people deserve better and do not deserve to have their constitutionally protected rights stripped away.”

Kubic added:

“Florida has now become the latest state to try to limit the constitutional protections guaranteed in Roe v. Wade. Bans to safe, legal and constitutionally protected abortion care are blatantly unconstitutional and wrong. Forcing a young person to have a child against their will is the epitome of government intrusion.

“Florida Statutes are already clear and were approved by voters decades ago, yet, the government has insisted that Floridians do not know what’s best for us or our state. These statutes already strictly require that physicians notify parents of their minor’s intent to end a pregnancy prior to any abortion care services being provided. The government has not provided any evidence that physicians are not following current laws, that parents are not being notified, or that minors are not already involving their parents.”

“Once again, the governor is trying to tell Floridians that the government knows best and that Florida voters do not have a say in how our state operates. This law is a sham.”

The Floridians for Reproductive Freedom coalition said in a statement:

“Anti-abortion legislators ignored the fact that the majority of young Floridians already involve a parent in their abortion decision-making; and that those who cannot or choose not to involve a parent do so for reasons rooted in their own safety and well-being.

For many communities there are still incredible barriers to not only getting abortion care, but barriers to staying safe and healthy overall. The new requirement becomes law in the midst of a national uprising against police violence, a global pandemic, and an economic crisis which disproportionately affects Black communities.”

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat who represents part of Orange County, complained in a written statement that conservative lawmakers were “using young people as pawns, in an attempt to ban abortion across the state of Florida.”

“It’s important to stress that most young people already seek the counsel of their parent or guardian when it comes to a decision like this. If they don’t, there’s usually a good reason,” Eskamani said.

Senate President Bill Galvano praised the legislation, noting that the new law also raises penalties for any doctor who refuses to provide medical care for any infant born alive during an attempted abortion. That’s already against the law but now will be a felony.

“This law sends a clear message that here in Florida, we will do everything we can to prevent the abomination of infanticide in our state,” Galvano said.

The law will take effect on Wednesday. Opponents are expected to challenge this law in the courts.

Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.