HB 265/SB 404 was introduced to trigger a legal challenge and reinterpretation of the privacy clause protecting abortion access in Florida
TALLAHASSEE – In spite of Florida still being in the thick of a pandemic, today Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 265/SB 404, forced parental consent for abortion, into law.
“This law will put already at-risk young people in even greater danger at the worst possible time,” said Stephanie Fraim, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. “What’s worse, it could open the door to a reinterpretation of our constitutional right to privacy and the right to a safe and legal abortion in Florida.”
Even as other states from Massachusetts to Illinois are realizing the damage these forced parental consent laws are doing and working to reverse them, Florida is moving full speed ahead to further endanger young people who, in many cases, have experienced abuse at the hands of their own parents and guardians.
Throughout the legislative process, supporters of the bill argued it would keep young people safer but medical experts have concluded just the opposite.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in the best of times, “legislation mandating parental involvement does not achieve the intended benefit of promoting family communication, and it increases the risk of harm to the adolescent by delaying access to appropriate medical care.”
The truth is, most young people already seek the advice of their parent or guardian in this situation. Too often, for the ones who don’t it’s because they fear retribution. It could even be that their parent or guardian is an abuser and the reason they’re pregnant in the first place.
The bill sponsors point to a process where these young people can go to court to get a bypass allowing them to access abortion care without parental consent in certain cases. Unfortunately, research has shown more than half the county clerks of court in Florida could offer little to no information about this process when surveyed. And that was before the coronavirus pandemic that is overwhelming health care providers and has closed down not just hotels and restaurants, but many of our courts.
Given the restricted access to our courts, we’re concerned this public health crisis may now make a difficult situation – accessing timely abortion care – nearly impossible for our most at risk young people, including Black and Latinx youth.
Black and Latinx communities have had less access to health care and dramatic health care disparities. We see these results in the ravages of COVID-19.
If Black and Latinx people do not have the right to bodily autonomy to live their daily lives — or protest the violence against their lives — without the fear of violence or murder, we can never achieve justice, let alone reproductive freedom.
“We have opposed this legislation from the start as bad public policy,” said Lillian Tamayo, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida. “But the truth is, it’s worse than that. When this law goes into effect on July 1 Florida will be a more dangerous place for our young people. And if this is used, as has been threatened, as a stepping stone to an all-out abortion ban, the last place in the southeast to access safe and legal abortion will be gone.”