There will again be a coordinated Senate-House effort to stiffen Florida’s parental consent requirements for minors seeking abortions during Florida’s 2020 legislative session.
Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, and Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, have pre-filed companion bills that would require physicians to obtain written consent of a parent or legal guardian before terminating a minor’s pregnancy.
Stargel’s Senate Bill 404, the "Parental Consent for Abortion Act," was filed Sept. 30. Grall’s House Bill 267 was filed Oct. 1. Neither have as yet been assigned a committee.
Stargel’s similar 2019 measure only made it out of one committee while Grall’s bill passed in the House but was never presented on the Senate floor.
Florida law requires parents or guardians be notified when a minor has an abortion, but girls can elect for an abortion with or without a parent’s consent following a 1989 Florida Supreme Court ruling that repealed a previous parental consent requirement.
The pre-1989 state law did not provide a provision that allowed girls in specific, dangerous situations to seek an exemption to the consent requirement.
Stargel and Grall, an anti-abortion Catholic lawyer, are also sponsoring related legislation to create a public records exemption to stop the public release of the names of girls who obtain such an exemption.
The other notable anti-abortion bill that has been pre-filed for the 2020 legislative session, which begins Jan. 14, is the proposed "Fetal Heart Beat Act" co-sponsored by Reps. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, and Anthony Sabatini, R-Clermont,
Hill and Sabatini say HB 271 is molded after the bill adopted this year by Alabama, one of six fetal heart beat bills approved nationwide in 2019.
The bill would ban nearly all abortions, with the only exception being if a woman's health is in danger, prohibiting “termination of pregnancy if physician determines that pre-born human being has detectable pre-born intrauterine heartbeat.”
Hill sponsored a 2019 fetal heart beat House bill that garnered 20 co-sponsors but died without a hearing before any committee. A similar Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Lady Lake, shared a similar fate.
In May, Hill told a Pensacola gathering that he would introduce a 2020 measure that would not include the exceptions for rape, incest, domestic violence, human trafficking or if the woman's life is in danger that his proposed 2019 fetal heart beat bill did.
"As plain as day, God spoke to me," Hill said. "He said that wasn't my bill, talking about the heartbeat detection bill that I filed. He said that wasn't my bill. I knew immediately what he was talking about. He said, you remove those exceptions and you file it again. And I said, 'yes Lord, I will.' It's coming back. It's coming back. We are going to file that bill without any exceptions just like what we saw passed in Alabama."
The only bills that could be classified as seeking to expand access to abortion is Sen. Lauren Book’s symbolic resolution asking lawmakers to place a measure on the 2020 ballot proposing an state constitutional amendment that neither legislative chamber may vote on a bill affecting access to abortion services unless at least half of the members are women.
Book filed Senate Joint Resolution 60 on Aug. 16 and it has been referred to the Senate’s Health Policy, Judiciary and Rules committees.
HJR 95, a companion House resolution filed on Sept. 23 by Rep. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, has been referred to the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, and State Affairs and Judiciary committees.