Youth advocates and legislators today held a press conference to speak out about why they oppose House Bill 265 just before the bill was debated and ultimately voted out of the House Health & Human Services Committee along party lines.
“This bill is bad public policy that will further endanger our already at risk young people,” said FSU Generation Action President Michelle Stern. “But the truth is that passing this legislation is just the first step in a much larger and more alarming plan to have our constitutional right to privacy reinterpreted to no longer safeguard access to abortion.”
State Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala), speaking at a Christian Family Coalition event in August, let slip the real motivation behind the forced parental consent bill is to trigger a challenge to the privacy clause in Florida’s state constitution. This could result in a full scale attack on safe and legal abortion in Florida. Baxley said, “We have some new court members, we need another look at what the privacy clause means…in a way that could open the door for many other accomplishments that save lives.”
“These laws have been shown to put the most at risk youth in even more danger, said Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando). “But if this bill becomes law in Florida it will put all of our abortion rights at risk.”
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 family situation. Others fear they would be physically abused because their parents had beaten them before. That’s why leading health and medical professionals oppose these laws.
The forced parental consent bill is just one part of a broad-based attack on abortion rights in Florida. House Bill 271, an even more radical six-week abortion ban has also been filed for 2020, this time with no exceptions for rape and incest.
This six-week ban would criminalize doctors who provide abortion once a “heartbeat” is detected, which can be as early as six weeks. At six weeks, most women don’t even know they’re pregnant. The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down similar bans as unconstitutional. Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court judge blocked Georgia’s six-week ban, stating “Under no circumstances whatsoever may a state prohibit or ban abortions at any point prior to viability.”
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.
“I may be young but I come from a family that knows firsthand the importance of having control of your own body,” Stern said. “The introduction of this bill is an attempt to use young people as political pawns in a dangerous game. That’s wrong. And, speaking as a young person myself, I find it deeply offensive.”