TAMPA — As Florida lawmakers debated a contentious bill Thursday afternoon that would require parental consent for minors in Florida seeking abortions, a group of advocates expressed their opposition outside Rep. Jackie Toledo’s South Tampa office.
The change to existing law would add Florida to the list of five other states — Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming — that require both parental consent and notification.
“This bill is all about undue obstacles,” said Amy Weintraub, reproductive rights director of Progress Florida. “We consider this is a Trojan horse of a bill...this bill is intended to open the door to many, many, many other anti-abortion policies.”
Last year, a similar billed passed in the House but died in the Senate. Earlier this month, however, the parental consent legislation passed in the Senate.
Toledo, a Republican, had met with representatives from the group earlier and told them she planned to vote in favor of the bill. After the House passes the bill, it would go to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law.
Weintraub said she is concerned by the precedent that “DeSantis’ newly formed conservative court” will set by passing bills that were previously deemed unconstitutional.
Though minors would be able to bypass the requirement with a judicial waiver, Ellie Levesque, a junior at the University of South Florida and president of Generation Action at USF Tampa, said the process would not be easy and one that would disproportionately affect marginalized communities. The lengthy process would allow pregnancies to reach a stage where abortion procedures could be cost-prohibitive, she said.
“It is highly unrealistic in nature even for people of privilege,” she said. “...(Most) teens are already involving their parents in the decision and if they aren’t its usually for good reason because they’re in an unsafe situation.”
Weintraub’s daughter, Caroline Weintraub, a senior at St. Petersburg High School also spoke out against the bill.
“I’ve heard a lot about it and honestly it’s affecting people most my age,” she said. “If (legislators) were to truly put themselves in our shoes now, then maybe that might alter their opinion.”