Recently the Florida Senate’s Health Policy Committee advanced by a party-line vote state Sen. Kelli Stargel’s bill requiring parental consent for a minor’s abortion.

The Lakeland Republican proposes that at least one parent or legal guardian certify in writing beforehand that the procedure is in the child’s “best interest.” Exceptions are built in. A minor’s abortion would be allowed if it’s a medical emergency. The measure grants judges automatic authority to overrule parents who object if the girl has been sexually abused. And with conditions, young women wanting abortions can seek a judge’s approval if their parents refuse.

The bill enhances Florida’s existing law that requires girls to simply notify their parents about obtaining an abortion.

We have supported this bill and are encouraged to see it move along. We hope that, after it stalled a bit, this committee vote will give the measure some momentum.

The main objection from critics of the bill is that it could imperil girls with Neanderthalic parents who might kick them into the street, or worse, abuse them, upon learning about the pregnancy. But if that is the case, wouldn’t it be happening already? After all, these young women cannot hide these pregnancies forever.

While we hope for more abstinence, apparently the combination of less interest in sex, for whatever reason, and wider access and usage of contraceptives is reducing pregnancy rates. So, we can surmise that the number of abortions would be down as well. Which means Stargel’s bill, if enacted, would apply to a relatively small number of young women.

That, some might think, makes the case against the bill. But even if the number were zero, and forgetting the divisive argument over pro-choice versus pro-life, this bill should be passed because a larger principle is at stake.

We cannot think of one medical treatment, including things as innocuous as flu shots or even taking an aspirin, that a minor can receive without parental consent. In fact, some call for forced vaccines over parents’ objections as a public-health matter,

And yet some people unhappy with Stargel’s bill work to persuade us that members of an emotionally fragile and vulnerable group are capable of handling a traumatic, heavyweight, life-altering procedure like abortion without having a parent agree.

Such thinking defies common sense and our standard health policies, and for that reason alone, the Legislature should ship Stargel’s bill over to the governor for his endorsement.

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The Lakeland Ledger

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