TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Tallahassee is ripe for another legislative battle over abortion, with Republicans filing bills to require girls under 18 years old to obtain parental consent before they could have the procedure done.
Here's five questions answered about the proposed legislation and what happens next.
1. Why have the bills been filed?
The sponsors, Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and Rep. Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach), filed similar measures for consideration during the 2019 legislative session. Both lawmakers argue parents need to be involved in a decision as consequential as terminating a pregnancy.
2. What happened during the 2019 legislative session?
While Grall's parental consent bill passed the Florida House during last spring's session, it failed to reach the floor of the more moderate Florida Senate. Some Republicans there objected to the lack of exceptions in the legislation.
3. Why are supporters optimistic about the bills' prospects in 2020?
The recently-filed measures include a 'judicial bypass' mechanism whereby girls fearful of reprisal by their parents would be able to petition a court to grant them permission to obtain an abortion. The proposal is seen as a way to attract the support of moderate Republican senators who weren't in favor of advancing last session's legislation.
4. What do pro-choice advocates say about the bills?
They warn a parental consent mandate would cause some teens to be effectively disowned by their parents. "It might be throwing them out of their homes if their parents found out they were pregnant," Barbara DeVane of the National Organization for Women said Tuesday.
5. What happens next?
The bills have yet to be put on committee hearing agendas. Lawmakers will return to Tallahassee for committee weeks in October, November and December, and the 2020 legislative session will begin in January.