DeSantis signs abortion parental consent bill into law

Haneifah Ahmad, Intern Reporter

A U.N.F. professor says that Governor Ron DeSantis is endangering young women’s lives. On June 30, the governor passed a bill into law requiring parental consent for minors to have abortions.

Many supporters of the abortion bill say parents need to be involved when their underage daughters consider having abortions. Many pro-choicers say the parental-consent requirement will put young women at risk physically and financially. 

“This law will put already at-risk young people in even greater danger at the worst possible time,” Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said in a statement. “What’s worse, it could open the door to a reinterpretation of our constitutional right to privacy and the right to a safe and legal abortion in Florida.”

Spinnaker interviewed Dr. Jennifer Lieberman, women’s studies expert and Associate Professor of American Literature and Culture, to discuss how this bill affects women in our community and its impact on safe abortion. 

Dr. Lieberman considers this bill to be a violation of privacy under Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision in 1973 that determined the Constitution of the United States allows protection of pregnant women’s liberty to have an abortion without restriction.

“The violation of Roe v. Wade is likely the point: right-wing legislators attempt to create laws that would erode Roe v. Wade protections in the hopes that the laws will make their way to the Supreme Court and challenge precedent,” Dr. Lieberman said. “From my perspective, Roe v. Wade isn’t just about privacy–it’s also about valuing life. When pregnancies cannot be legally terminated, women die in attempts to terminate them unsafely.” 

Young women are encouraged to involve their parents or guardians in making these decisions, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “legislation mandating parental involvement does not achieve the intended benefit of promoting family communication, and it increases the risk of harm to the adolescent by delaying access to appropriate medical care.” In many cases like in Illinois and Massachusetts, young women are faced with unwanted pregnancy due to fear of the family’s response which could cause them emotional or physical harm. 

This bill could impact access to safe abortions, according to Lieberman. “This bill about parental approval can endanger young women who might face abuse at home if they have to discuss their condition with their parents.” 

According to the ACLU, “One study showed that 22% of teens who did not tell a parent about their abortion decision feared that, if they told their parents, they would be kicked out of the house. More than 8% feared that they would be physically abused because their parents had beaten them before.” 

If young women are being abused physically or sexually, the court shall issue an order authorizing the minor to consent to the performance or inducement of a termination of the pregnancy according to the statement of the bill

So what options can a young woman have due to this bill and a family that might not allow consent? It’s going to be difficult. 

“Likely, young women with the means would leave the state and young women without as much money or autonomy would face the double-edged sword of seeking unsafe methods to terminate pregnancy or violence at home,” Lieberman said. 

Endangering young women is one of the consequences of this abortion bill. Lieberman says there are more consequences short-term and in the future. 

“The short term effect is riling Governor DeSantis’ base. When the Governor ignites a pro-life versus pro-choice public discussion, both sides feel anger at the other’s presumed immorality instead of recognizing the common ground that could be met with more humane policies that actually cherished human life. A good way to lower the number of abortions, for example, is to provide prenatal care, child care, and sex education–not to mention better social services for adoption. Valuing life means valuing the young people who fear for their lives because of their abusive homes, it means valuing the lives of the women who suffer and die when they cannot access the medical services they need, and, of course, it means protecting lives with better policies during a public health crisis.”

Gov. DeSantis signed this bill quietly while the nation is going through a pandemic. COVID-19 has ravaged less-funded communities, especially those in the Black and Latinx communities because they have less access to health care. Lieberman says DeSantis has failed thousands of Floridians. 

“It is deeply ironic that Governor DeSantis would push through a presumably pro-life bill about abortions in this current moment, as he has failed to protect the lives of the nearly 4,000 Floridians who have already died from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the additional thousands who will suffer and die because of the lack of strong leadership during this public health crisis.”