COVID-19 Special Coverage
Florida lawmakers pass bill requiring minors to receive parental consent for abortions
© WikiMedia (James McNellis)
Florida lawmakers pass bill requiring minors to receive parental consent for abortions

Florida lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill that would require minors to receive parental consent before they obtain abortions. This bill would prohibit physicians from performing abortions for a minor without the written consent from the minor’s parent or legal guardian.

In the case of abortions that arise in emergencies, the physician is required to take reasonable action to contact the parent or legal guardian. The physician may complete the procedure under these circumstances, but he/she must provide direct notice, including details of the medical emergency and any additional risks to the minor, to the parent or legal guardian.

Minors may ask and receive waivers in limited circumstances, such as incest and abuse. When granting waivers, the court will consider the minor’s age, overall intelligence, emotional development and stability, credibility and demeanor as a witness, ability to accept responsibility, ability to assess the immediate and long-term consequences, and ability to understand and explain the medical risks.

In cases in which a physician provides an abortion to a minor without parental consent, the physician can be charged with a felony of the third degree. However, the physician may be able to raise a defense that the minor misrepresented her age or identity and that “the appearance of the minor was such that a reasonably prudent person would believe that the minor was not under 18 years of age.”

The Florida House voted 75 to 43 in favor of the bill. The Senate had passed the bill on February 6 by a vote of 23 to 17.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected the sign the bill into law, at which point Florida will join 26 other states that require the written permission of a parent or legal guardian to authorize a doctor to terminate a minor’s pregnancy.

The bill is expected to go into effect on July 1.