Every Floridian, including young Floridians, deserve autonomy in reproductive health care decisions. On Wednesday, the entire Florida House of Representatives will be voting on a law aimed at compromising just that, by adding indefensible barriers for young women needing access to abortion. This bill would require those deemed too “immature” to have an abortion to become parents instead.
This proposal, spearheaded by Representative Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach), will require a young person’s parent to prove identity and parentage and give written, notarized consent before she could get an abortion. And, it exacts criminal penalties for noncompliance.
Young people should be able to turn to their parents when faced with an unintended pregnancy, and in fact most do. But laws requiring a young woman to further involve parents puts her health and safety at risk and does not increase family communication.
The small fraction of youth who do not voluntarily consult a parent often have good reason not to. Many come from families where such an announcement would only exacerbate an already volatile or dysfunctional family situation. They may not live with their parents due to family strife or incarceration. Some teens who don’t want to tell a parent about their abortion decision fear, if they did, they would be kicked out of the house. Others fear they would be physically abused because their parents had beaten them before.
Again, House Bill 1335 will require a clinic or physician to obtain the consent of a parent before the young person’s abortion can happen. Youth already are more likely than older women to have later abortions, and requiring a girl’s health care provider to acquire written permission will only cause further delays. After enactment of Missouri's parental consent law, for example, the proportion of second-trimester abortions among minors increased by 17%. While abortion is safer than childbirth, later abortions entail more medical risks and are more difficult to obtain because they are more expensive and fewer doctors perform them.
Let’s make our voices heard as we work toward a world where everyone can access confidential and safe access to the full range of reproductive and sexual health services, including abortion.
For health and justice,
Amy and the Progress Florida team