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House Health Quality Subcommittee advances parental consent for abortion despite opposition from medical community, health care advocates and patients

Tallahassee – Today, the Florida House Health Quality Subcommittee voted along party lines for House Bill 1335 requiring minors to obtain parental consent prior to receiving an abortion.

“Think that’ll keep our young people safe? Well, it won’t,” said Laura Goodhue, Executive Director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric. This bill is just one more attempt to chip away at access to abortion in Florida.”

Most young people already seek the counsel of their parent or guardian when it comes to a decision like this. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 90 percent of 14-year-olds and 74 percent of 15-year-olds surveyed said they involved at least one parent or guardian in their abortion decision. If they don’t, there’s usually a real good reason.

Another study found that of the young people who do not seek advice from parents, nearly half—45 percent—experience significant negative consequences when a parent finds out about pregnancy, from punishment to abuse to being forced to leave the home.

Kristen Erichsen shared her personal story of going through the judicial bypass process to obtain an abortion.

“We had already been evicted three times that year when I found out I was pregnant. I was 15. There was no way I could possibly provide for a child. I knew that if my mom found out I was pregnant, I would be kicked out of the house. If I had needed parental consent, I would not have been able to move forward with the procedure, and would not be where I am today,” said Erichsen. “Eleven years later, I am in my fourth year of a PhD program at Florida State University. I am living the future I could only dream of as a 15 year old.”

It should come as no surprise that health care professionals from the American Medical Association, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American Public Health Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other organizations of health professionals oppose mandatory parental involvement in abortion decision making.

The American Medical Association recognizes that requiring parental involvement when youth seek sensitive health services can be counterproductive. The Society of Adolescent Medicine recommends adolescents be allowed to give consent for all or some types of health care and to have their confidentiality protected in the provision of that care, and the American Academy of Family Physicians agrees it is essential that adolescents have access to confidential health care.

“By advancing this bill, politicians are using our young people as political pawns in a dangerous game and it’s just plain wrong,” said Goodhue.