TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Republican legislation to require girls to obtain parental consent in order to have an abortion passed the Florida House Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday, positioning it for a vote by the full House when the 2020 legislative session begins in January.
Here's five questions asked and answered regarding what the bill mandates and where it goes from here.
1. What would the legislation do?
The bill (HB 265) would mandate parental consent with a key exception: girls fearful of parental retaliation would be allowed to petition a court for permission to have an abortion.
2. Why do supporters say the legislation is necessary?
Pro-life Republicans believe teens should not be allowed to make the consequential decision to have an abortion on their own. Parents should have a strong voice in the decision making process, they say, just as they do in other aspects of their children's lives.
3. What do opponents say?
Pro-choice activists rallied against the legislation before Tuesday's vote, calling it a fundamental assault on abortion rights in Florida. They suggested the bill is a vehicle for Republicans to test what could be a newly-favorable judicial environment less inclined to overturn abortion restrictions, pointing to a new conservative majority on the Florida Supreme Court installed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
4. Why wasn't the legislation assigned to more committees?
House Republican leaders have decided to fast-track the bill, subjecting it to a single committee hearing (measures generally have to pass multiple committees before reaching the House floor). In addition to queuing up the bill for a vote by the 120-member chamber, the move has also had the effect of limiting opportunity for public comment.
5. What about the state Senate?
A similar bill passed the House during the 2019 legislative session but failed to advance in the more moderate Senate. Supporters are hopeful the judicial waiver clause combined with the prospect of a favorable judicial environment will convince the upper chamber to pass the legislation.