Busloads of activists from throughout the state converged on Tallahassee Tuesday and occupied the State Capitol complex as the Senate delayed an aniticipated floor vote on the controversial forced parental consent for abortion bill. If it becomes law, SB 404 would endanger already vulnerable young Floridians, and could open the floodgates to further abortion restrictions by allowing the newly seated and conservative Florida Supreme Court to reinterpret the privacy clause in the state constitution to no longer protect access to abortion. A Senate vote now appears likely on Thursday.
“Passing this legislation is the first step in a sinister plan to overturn Florida’s unique privacy protections that prevent politicians from interfering in decisions made between a patient and their doctor,” said Laura Goodhue, Executive Director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “The future of abortion rights in Florida is at stake with this bill. This is Florida’s Roe v. Wade.”
Protesters occupied the Capitol’s fourth and fifth floor rotundas, after abortion rights supporters rallied in front of Andrews restaurant on Adams Street earlier in the day.
Florida law already requires parents to be notified when a minor wants to have an abortion. The small percentage who do not voluntarily consult a parent often have good reason. Many come from families where such an announcement would only exacerbate an already volatile or dysfunctional situation. Others fear they would be physically abused, face retribution or even get kicked out of the home.
“This bill is medically unsound and politically driven,” said Amy Weintraub, Reproductive Rights Program Director for Progress Florida. “Major health and medical organizations oppose laws like SB 404 because they put young, at-risk Floridians in even greater jeopardy.”
The forced parental consent bill is part of a broad-based attack on abortion rights in Florida, which is already the last sanctuary for abortion access in the Southern U.S. thanks to outright abortion bans in neighboring states. House Bill 271, a radical six-week abortion ban has also been filed this year in Florida, with no exceptions for rape and incest.
Seventy-five percent of Floridians agree that women should have the ability to decide whether to have an abortion with her doctor without the government interfering. And more than three-quarters of Americans (77%) do not want Roe v. Wade overturned. This includes a majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
Among the protesters were representatives and advocates representing Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, National Women’s Liberation Gainesville, Organize Florida, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Progress Florida, Women’ March Florida, Tallahassee Indivisible and the Generation Action chapters at Florida State and FAMU.
“With this Trojan Horse of a bill, lawmakers are scheming to end reproductive freedom in Florida and they are shamelessly using young Floridians as their political pawns to do so,” said Goodhue.
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