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On Roe v. Wade Anniversary, FL Lawmakers Move to Restrict Abortion Access

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Demonstrators in Tallahassee Wednesday rallied to celebrate the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and speak out against legislation that would restrict teens' access to abortion. (Progress Florida)
Demonstrators in Tallahassee Wednesday rallied to celebrate the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and speak out against legislation that would restrict teens' access to abortion. (Progress Florida)
January 23, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida legislation restricting access to abortion services for pregnant teens moved closer to a floor vote on the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Wednesday.

About two hours before abortion rights advocates gathered in the State Capitol to celebrate the Supreme Court's landmark ruling on reproductive freedom, the Senate Rules Committee passed a bill 9-to-7 that would require teens seeking abortions to have signed parental consent.

Currently, Florida law requires pregnant teens seeking abortion to notify their parents within 48 hours of their procedure. Teens who are unable to get parental consent can seek a judicial waiver.

Heather Shumaker, senior attorney at the National Women's Law Center, says Senate Bill 404 would create unnecessary barriers for those teens.

"You can't legislate healthy family conversations, and we know from conversations with young people that those who feel comfortable talking to their parents about this decision -- who have safe environments in their home -- already do talk to their parents about this decision," she states.

In 1989, the Florida Supreme Court overturned similar legislation, citing privacy protections in the state Constitution. Amy Weintraub, reproductive rights program director for group Progress Florida, says the timing is no coincidence, and opponents of the measure are concerned that today's conservative court would be more likely to uphold the proposed new law, potentially narrowing the scope of people's rights to privacy.

"It's kind of like a Trojan horse," she states. "They want to test the court's acceptance of this type of law, in the hopes that more anti-abortion legislation will be easy to implement in the months and years to come."

SB 404 is about a week away from getting a floor vote, while House members are expected to vote on a companion bill - HB 265 - in the coming days. With support from Republican state lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis, the bill is likely to become law. Still, its opponents say they'll continue to make their case against the measure.

Valerie Crowder, Public News Service - FL