Girls under the age of 18 will have to get a parent’s permission before having an abortion under a bill signed by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday.
Despite holding a news conference to sign environmental legislation on the same day, DeSantis chose to sign the abortion bill with no fanfare and out of the public eye.
“The Governor was pleased to sign this historic legislation to support and protect Florida families,” spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice said in an email.
Republican Senate President Bill Galvano announced the signing before the governor's office did.
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“The serious and irrevocable decision to end a pregnancy involves undergoing a significant medical procedure that results, in many cases, in lifelong emotional and physical impacts. The parents of a minor child considering an abortion must be involved in such a substantial and permanent decision," Galvano said in a statement to media after the bill signing.
DeSantis asked lawmakers to send him the bill during his State of the State speech that kicked off the legislative session in January. The bill was passed in February, but the legislative leaders didn't send it to DeSantis until this month.
The new law expands on a current law that requires a girl’s parents are notified before she can have an abortion. It was one of the more divisive issues of the legislative session that ended in March, with Democrats arguing that it was another attempt by Republicans to restrict abortion rights.
“From the very beginning this legislative effort was a political agenda to ban abortion in the state of Florida,” said Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani.
She said that only 3% of abortions in the nation are performed on girls under 18, and that two-thirds of those have already talked to a parent before making the decision. Among the rest are girls who are victims of abuse or fear for their safety if they tell their parents.
“This community of young people really deserves to be supported, not shamed and stigmatized, and what the intent of this bill has been from beginning is to not empower young people, but to actually make it more difficult for them to make a difficult decision,” Eskamani said.
The bill has a provision that will allow a girl to ask a judge for a waiver from the law in cases of abuse, incest or when involving a parent could cause more harm than allowing the procedure. But opponents argued that asking minors to negotiate the legal system when they are already scared and ashamed could drive them to illegal abortions.
Republicans argued that children need a parent’s permission to go on a school field trip and can’t go to an R-rated movie without a parent or guardian, so it makes no sense to make a life-altering decision on their own.