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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill yesterday that prohibits physicians from performing or inducing the termination of the pregnancy of a minor without parental consent. The new law becomes effective today and makes Florida the sixth state to require both parental consent and notice before minor girls can get an abortion.
Senate Bill 404 requires a girl under 18 to have at least one parent’s permission before going through with an abortion. The bill includes exceptions for medical emergencies and allows a judge to grant permission instead of a parent. It also increases the penalties for not caring for an infant born alive during an abortion. The bill, which passed during the legislative session that ended in March, comes more than three decades after the Florida Supreme Court in 1989 struck down a similar parental-consent law.
Doctors who perform abortions for a minor without parental consent would face up to five years in prison for a third-degree felony.
Polls show strong support for parental involvement laws. A Gallup poll found 71 percent of Americans favor laws requiring parents’ involvement in a minor’s abortion decision. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kelli Stargel, experienced her own teenage pregnancy and said the bill will protect young girls and strengthen families. “I think this is strengthening the family and making sure that when you have those difficult situations that there is a conversation. A discussion,” she said.
About 1,500 underage girls have abortions in Florida each year and the new parental consent law makes abortion congruent with other medical procedures and laws affecting minors in Florida. For example, it is illegal to tattoo a child under 16, and parental consent is required for minors between 16 and 18.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The parental consent laws underscore the importance that parents, not abortion doctors, have the right to direct the decisions of their minor children. Parental consent laws help prevent young girls from making a hasty, uninformed decision to abort their unborn babies. There is no such thing as a safe abortion, and these laws help protect the lives of girls and unborn children.”