A proposed piece of legislation in Florida would make it more difficult for teenagers to end pregnancies. The Florida abortion bill would require teenagers to prove that they are mature enough to undergo the procedure before a judge officially grants them permission. Critics have argued that the bill's logic is faulty because it would require teens deemed too "immature" to have an abortion to become parents instead.
Under current Florida law, people who are under 18 are required to involve their parents in their decision to have an abortion, according to Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida. Specifically, parents must be notified that their child is going to have the procedure 48 hours before it is scheduled to take place. Under the proposed bill, HB 1335, physicians who perform abortions on minors would also have to have notarized written consent before they would be allowed to do the procedure, according to Newsweek.
If a teen is unable to get permission from their parent, according to Newsweek, then they would have to ask a judge to provide a waiver. The teen in question would then have to meet a list of criteria that assess whether they are "mature enough" to have an abortion, according to Newsweek.
“I oppose it because it’s an unconstitutional invasion of privacy,” Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said of the bill, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “It puts teens at risk. I oppose it because it’s just simply wrong.”
The Sentinel also reported that a committee hearing on the bill was so heated last week that two activists were removed from the room. The 10-4 vote to move the bill forward fell almost entirely along party lines, with one Democrat voting to advance it, per the Sentinel.
Rep. Kimberly Daniels, the Democrat who voted in favor of the bill, defended her decision before the vote took place, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“A minor is not mature enough to drink, to go to a club, or to be tried as an adult, but we would allow them to make a serious decision like this without parental information?" she said, per the Bay Times. "I’m going to vote how I feel.”
The bill's opponents, however, are concerned about the impact that such requirements could have on teenagers seeking abortions in Florida. Kim Scott, public policy director for Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida, told Newsweek that the bill could be particularly bad for minors in vulnerable positions. “This bill is only going to disproportionately disenfranchise the young people who are in dangerous situations," she said.
Like other critics, Scott told Newsweek that she was concerned about the logic behind forcing teens deemed "immature" to carry pregnancies to term.
"If that judge doesn’t deem you mature enough to have an abortion, that judge is deeming you mature enough to have a child, and that is daunting,” she said.
If the bill is ultimately approved, the Bay Times reports that it would go into effect on July 1.