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After 2 days of grueling debate, parental consent for minors' abortions to become law

Samantha J. Gross, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- In his State of the State address at the beginning of the 2020 legislative session, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asked for a bill to require minors seeking abortion to obtain parental consent. On Thursday, he received it.

After five hours of heated debate over the course of two days, the Florida House passed a bill that would do just that, sending the legislation to DeSantis' desk, the first piece of major legislation to do so.

The bill, which had been fast-tracked through a single committee stop instead of the usual three, was replaced Wednesday by the Senate's version of the bill that passed earlier this month.

Florida law currently requires that parents or guardians are notified if a minor gets an abortion. Minors can also obtain a judicial waiver to bypass that requirement.

The change to existing law adds Florida to the list of five other states -- Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming -- that require both parental consent and notification.

House members passed the legislation 75-43. The mandate will go into effect July 1.

 

Though the fight over parental consent for abortions has been a largely partisan one, GOP Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen of Fort Myers came out against it.

Fitzenhagen, the only Republican to vote for Democrats' amendments during Wednesday's debate, said she agrees with her Republican colleagues that she wants an end to abortions in Florida.

However, she said, "we don't live in a utopia where young girls don't get pregnant," and the decision to terminate a pregnancy is a private one that should be made without government interference. She said as an attorney and a woman, she knows how scary it could be for a girl who is intimidated to even get to a courtroom to seek a judicial waiver.

She understands what it's like for young people or even uninitiated adults to step into a courtroom, she said, and she knows what it would be like to seek a judicial waiver to get an abortion without parental consent.

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