Florida law says parents have to be notified when their daughters seek abortions. Under the proposal, parents would have to give their permission.
The House Health Quality Subcommittee heard from a string of women who’ve had abortions, but who have differing opinions about the bill.
“I had an abortion and I’m over 65 years old, and it haunts me every day,” said Barbara Mayall as she testified in support of the bill.
Speaking in opposition, Kristen Erichsen said the bill assumes that all children have good relationships with their parents. “That is obviously not true. When I was 15 I had been evicted three times, and my mom was severely addicted to drugs,” Erichsen said. “When I found out I was pregnant, I sought the waiver for parental consent and was able to receive an abortion. I’m now a 4th year PhD student at Florida State. I would not be here if this bill went through.”
The bill includes exemptions for minors who have health emergencies or who already have children. Minors could also ask a judge to waive the parental-consent requirement.
Rep. Richard Stark (D-Weston) said he opposes the bill even though he’s against abortion. “It’s just that some of us have a different idea of what the rights are for other people.”
Rep. Cord Byrd (R-Neptune Beach) said debate over the proposal is worthy because minors need permission for just about everything.
“When I heard the people in opposition, not one, not one person said why this procedure - which is a medical procedure performed by a medical doctor - is any different than any other medical procedure performed in the state of Florida by a physician on a minor that requires parental consent,” Byrd said.
Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Mount Dora) tried to explain why she supports the bill, but committee Chairwoman Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland) had to jump in when audience members started interrupting.
“The majority of opposition we’ve heard today is from those who stand to gain financially from these children moving forward with this procedure,” Sullivan said. Then Burton stopped the debate to ask a member of the audience to leave.
The protester was Barbara DeVane, a lobbyist for the Florida National Organization for Women, which opposes the bill. DeVane left, then there was another interruption from the audience. Sante Fe College student Heather-Ann Irons yelled that she wasn’t an abortion provider and had nothing to gain financially from opposing the bill.
The legislation passed the committee 10 to 4. A Senate version has not yet been heard by a committee.
~News Service of Florida contributed to this story.