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Florida Imposes Forced Parental Consent for Abortion

Young People Have Right to Safe, Accessible Abortion Care

Opponents of Florida's "parental consent" bill gather for a press conference at the Capitol in Tallahasee, January 22, 2020.  © 2020 AP Photo/Aileen Perilla

Two days after the United States Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that would have limited access to abortion, a harmful new abortion restriction is going into effect in Florida. The law requires anyone under 18 to get consent from a parent or legal guardian before having an abortion.

Most young people under 18 voluntarily involve a parent or another trusted adult in their abortion decision, even if the law doesn’t require it. But for those who don’t – often because they fear abuse, deterioration of family relationships, being kicked out of the home, or being forced to continue a pregnancy – laws like Florida’s pose a barrier to their care.

Florida reproductive justice advocates opposed the law, arguing that lawmakers should trust young people to make decisions that are best for their health and lives. I joined them in the state capital, Tallahassee, to testify at a Senate hearing about how forced parental consent would undermine young people’s human rights.

But it’s important for young people in Florida who need abortion care to know they still have options, even without involving a parent.

Florida’s law allows young people to choose a process called judicial bypass and show a judge they are mature enough to make an abortion decision without their parents, or that involving their parents is not in their best interest. These young people will have a court-appointed attorney, and won’t have to pay any legal fees.

Floridians for Reproductive Freedom has information about the process on their website. Jane’s Due Process has a hotline that anyone in the country can call for more information (1-866-999-5263). The national organization If/When/How has a wiki page with information about judicial bypass in every state. Power U is hosting a tweetstorm today to ensure young people know what this law means for them. Follow at #myvoicemychoice.

For those who want to help young people navigate this process, Florida reproductive justice advocate Stephanie Loraine published guidance on being a compassionate and effective helper

Florida’s law is a sobering reminder that attempts to restrict access to abortion care won’t end with this week’s Supreme Court decision. It’s also a moment in which the work of reproductive justice groups is especially valuable, as they help to ensure that young people in Florida can still access abortion and get the care they need.

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