1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Bill that requires parental consent for a minor’s abortion advances in Florida House

The House Health Quality subcommittee voted 10-4 Tuesday to approve House Bill 1335, which would prohibit a physician from performing an abortion on a minor unless the doctor has parental consent.
Bill sponsor Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach.
Bill sponsor Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach.
Published Mar. 19
Updated Mar. 19

A bill that would require parents or guardians to consent to a minor’s abortion before it is performed is now moving through the Florida House, after lawmakers in a heated hearing voted largely along party lines to advance the bill past its first committee stop.

The House Health Quality subcommittee voted 10-4 Tuesday to approve House Bill 1335, which would prohibit a physician from performing an abortion on a minor unless the doctor has parental consent and complies with existing requirements to notify them of the procedure.

The bill allows minors to seek a waiver from a court to bypass the consent requirement, if judges find “clear and convincing evidence” a minor is mature enough to decide to obtain an abortion. A waiver could also be granted in cases where evidence indicates minors are likely victims of child abuse or sexual abuse by a parent or guardian or a judge otherwise decides it is in their best interest.

“I believe parents have a fundamental right in the upbringing of their children,” said Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, who sponsored the bill. She cast the bill as a way to ensure that abortions are done more safely and as a way to support minors who are considering the procedure, even if they seek a judicial waiver to bypass the consent provision.

The bill sets standards for legal counsel for minors who go to court for a waiver. It also increases the penalties for not caring for an infant born alive during an abortion procedure, from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.

In Florida, if a minor is seeking an abortion, state law requires that a parent or guardian be notified, with exceptions in cases such as medical emergencies. Minors who have obtained a judicial waiver from the notification requirement, are already parents, or have other extenuating circumstances are also exempted. Grall’s bill also applies those exceptions to the parental consent requirement.

The issue of parental consent has been long debated and litigated in Florida, as well as on the federal level: A similar law requiring parental consent was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 1989, citing a broad state constitutional right to privacy that the courts have asserted applies to a woman’s pregnancy. A law pertaining to parental notification was also struck down in 2003, though voters the following year approved a constitutional amendment to create a new notification law.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, raised earlier judicial decisions when he asked Grall about the bill Tuesday, saying the 1989 case raised questions about the validity of the law: “Why are we re-litigating an issue that has already been determined by the courts in our state as unconstitutional?”

“Sometimes I think the courts get it wrong,” Grall said, saying that in the 1989 case, a court had found specific issues with how the judicial waiver process was conducted. She added that “all rights do not extend unfettered to minors … there is compelling state interest in the fundamental right of a parent in the upbringing of their child.”

She also denied, after a question from Smith, that the bill was deliberately intended to raise a legal challenge to the existing privacy standard before the Florida Supreme Court.

Several Republican lawmakers, arguing in support of the bill, compared abortion to other actions — getting a tattoo, even getting permission for an aquarium field trip — that already require parental consent. “I think everyone would agree it’s a weighty decision,” said Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Hillsborough.

Dozens of speakers, some traveling from out of town, also spoke for and against the bill: Regina Sheridan, 25, of Tallahassee, who had an abortion in high school shortly after she turned 18, told the panel the procedure, especially at a young age, “is already a terrifying experience.” She urged them to consider abortion “a personal, private medical decision.”

But Barbara Mayall of Pensacola, 65, wavered between tears and frustration when she told lawmakers spontaneously that she had had an abortion at the age of 25. She had told only a handful of people before Monday, not including her son, who was watching on a livestream.

“It hurts me every day,” she said, supporting the bill. “Sometimes we have to grow up. You can’t be blaming who did what to someone else.”

Two activists were also escorted out of the meeting, after each interjected while lawmakers were debating the bill.

After the fractious public testimony, Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, who eventually voted for the bill, made a plea to both sides to find positions they could agree on. He compared the perennial abortion bills — and the court decisions striking them down — to trench warfare in World War I: “You dig your trench on one side, you dig your trench on the other side … you make inches over months.”

“There is a smarter way of making sure there aren’t abortions,” he added, as Smith nodded strongly on the other side of the dais. “No one here wants children to die. The way we’re going about reducing abortions, the way we’re going about trying to reduce the need for abortions, is just like trench warfare: It’s getting us nowhere.”

But Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, responded by saying he saw little room for agreement when both sides disagreed on a question as fundamental as when life begins. “It’s going to be very difficult to solve this problem,” he said.

Rep. Kimberly Daniels of Jacksonville, the only Democrat to vote for the bill, said it felt like a “no-brainer.”

“A minor is not mature enough to drink, to go to a club, or to be tried as an adult, but we would allow them to make a serious decision like this without parental information?” she asked rhetorically. “I’m going to vote how I feel.”

A similar bill setting requirements for parental consent in the Senate, SB 1774, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. has been referred to committee but has yet to be heard. A linked bill, HB 1397, also sponsored by Grall, would exempt information identifying a minor who is seeking a judicial waiver in such cases from court records.

The parental consent bill joins a handful of others in this year’s legislative session that would restrict abortion . Two sets of bills, HB 235/SB 792 and HB 1345/SB 558, would limit the procedure to before a fetal heartbeat is detected or to 20 weeks, respectively. Though all of those bills have been referred to committees, none has yet been scheduled for a hearing.

The bill would go into effect July 1.


  1. This Feb. 19 photo shows a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File]
    The grand jury said districts are creating “unnecessary chaos” and have become “experts at data manipulation.”
  2. Council member Ed Montanari, left, was elected St. Petersburg City Council chair for 2020. Council member Gina Driscoll was voted vice-chair. [Times (2019)]
    The chair guides the council through meetings and generally speak last on issues.
  3. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) [ALEX BRANDON  |  AP]
    Gaetz declined a breathalyzer test, but the charges were dropped anyway.
  4. Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, presents his bill on civics education to the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee on Dec. 11, 2019. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport,’ sponsor Rep. Ben Diamond reminds colleagues.
  5. Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a town hall meeting at the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 hosted by Unite Here, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Yasmina Chavez/Las Vegas Sun via AP) [YASMINA CHAVEZ  |  AP]
    One worked for Rick Kriseman’s 2017 campaign.
  6. Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
    Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said she thinks Republican leaders want to keep the number under wraps because it points to the controversial program’s “failure.”
  7. In this file photo, Lakewood High School defensive lineman Tre'von Riggins (98) takes a moment during a spring football practice last April. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Measures to prevent heatstroke deaths were among the key items in a bill that unanimously passed its first committee on Wednesday.
  8. Richard Sajko of Valrico talks about how he killed one of the two bears on the back of his pickup truck in 2015 during the first Florida Black Bear hunt in 21 years at the Rock Springs Run Wildlife Management Area near Lake Mary. The hunt was so controversial that state officials have not held a second one. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
    But commissioners leave the door open for future hunts in next decade
  9. An Air Force carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Navy Seaman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, of St. Petersburg, Fla., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. A Saudi gunman killed three people including Haitham in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) [CLIFF OWEN  |  AP]
    Foreign citizens are allowed to buy guns if they first get a hunting license
  10. Marie Oneal sets up voting booths ahead of Election Day at the First United Methodist Church in Seffner on Aug. 27. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times] [JONES, OCTAVIO  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Delays in implementing key changes are facing insurmountable hurdles before the Nov. 3 general election.