TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Senate has delayed a vote on a bill that would require girls under the age of 18 have a parent’s permission before having an abortion in Florida.
The delay comes as hundreds of critics and supporters of the proposal traveled to Tallahassee this week.
Planned Parenthood left Jacksonville at 7 a.m. Tuesday to join abortion rights activists at a rally and “occupy” the Capitol to protest the proposal.
The bill (SB 404) would require a minor to get written, notarized permission from a parent or legal guardian to obtain an abortion. Florida already requires that doctors notify parents before performing an abortion on a minor.
For bill sponsor Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, the issue is personal.
“As a girl who had an unplanned pregnancy as a teenager, you always think that you know what your parents are going to say about the whole subject,” she said.
Stargel said that wasn’t the case when she spoke with her mother.
“My mom said, ‘You know what? This is going to ruin your life. You need to have an abortion.’ I thought that through. I talked to the father of our baby, other people, and through that conversation, came to the conclusion that that’s not what I wanted,” Stargel said.
Stargel’s daughter is now 35, and her parents are still together. Stargel said the conversations with her family are to thank.
“It worked out better for the entire family unit. That’s what’s missing, I think, in this conversation so frequently today and that’s what I hope this bill will help to bring together is that conversation,” Stargel said.
While Stargel’s parents helped her decide what to do, protesters said her bill ignores others who don’t come from functional families.
“The majority of young people who do not tell their parents about a decision to have an abortion, research has shown that they do not tell them because they fear abuse neglect or abandonment,” said Lauren Brenzel, with the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.
Students for Life of America also led a counterprotest Tuesday. Some pro-life organizations got a head start Monday, celebrating “Life Day” and taking the opportunity to speak with lawmakers about their No. 1 priority: the parental consent bill.
“Even people on the so-called ‘pro-abortion’ side, they even think, ‘Well, I’m a parent. I should have a right to know before my daughter gets a surgical procedure or undergoes something as traumatic as an abortion,’" said Lynda Bell, president of Florida Right to Life. "And so we feel like it’s so important to put the parent back involved in the equation.”
The legislation is now expected to be debated on the Senate floor and voted on Thursday.
A similar House bill (HB 265) is ready for a vote in that chamber.