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Florida abortion rights amendment and parental consent – NBC 6 South Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., warned parents about a state abortion amendment that would expand legal access to abortion and overturn a six-week abortion ban that took effect May 1.

In Naples, hours before President Joe Biden spoke about abortion in Tampa on April 23, DeSantis told a crowd that Biden came to Florida to support a constitutional amendment “that will eliminate parental consent for minors and is written in a manner deliberately designed to mislead voters.”

The governor reiterated this warning on April 30, calling it “an amendment they wanted to put in the Florida Constitution that would eliminate parental consent for minors.”

“Why would you take away parental consent?” he asked.

The picture of how the amendment could affect parental consent is complex. The ballot measure needs 60% approval to take effect. And if approved, the amendment itself says it “does not alter the constitutional authority of the Legislature to require notice of a parent or guardian before a minor obtains an abortion.”

But DeSantis’ warning is based on a prediction about what could happen to the parental consent law through legal challenges.

That’s because the amendment states that “no law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the health of the patient.” Legal experts say this wording could lead advocates to challenge a 2020 state law that requires written parental consent before a minor has an abortion.

But the abolition of the consent law is not a foregone conclusion; this would likely be decided by the court.

Another wrinkle: Legal experts told us that Florida’s April 1 parental consent requirements have been unconstitutional for decades.

This is why DeSantis’ statement needs more explanation.

What the amendment says about parental consent, notice

The summary of Amendment 4 reads in full:

“No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before it becomes viable or when necessary to protect the health of the patient, as determined by the patient’s health care provider. This amendment does not change the constitutional authority of the Legislature to require notice to a parent or guardian before a minor has an abortion.”

DeSantis and others argue the language would eliminate the law requiring minors to get parental consent before an abortion. Minors can also seek court permission to obtain an abortion without parental involvement.

But legal experts told PolitiFact that the amendment does not mean an immediate end to parental consent for abortions in Florida.

“It is possible that an individual or group could file a lawsuit to overturn the parental consent law, but the case would be heard in state court and ultimately the Florida Supreme Court would decide the issue,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political scientist . professor at the University of Central Florida.

Given the court’s conservative leanings, Jewett says, it is possible that it will uphold existing Florida law even if the constitutional amendment is adopted. Judges could rule that parents traditionally have a legal right to have a say in their children’s health care decisions, he said, and therefore still have a say here.

The amendment also states that it “does not override the constitutional authority of the Legislature to require notice of a parent or guardian before a minor obtains an abortion.” This refers to Article

Bryan Griffin, a spokesperson for DeSantis, told PolitiFact in an email that parental notice is not the same as consent. He referred to DeSantis’ April 17 news conference, in which DeSantis said the “notification comes after the fact. The authorization is clearly a condition precedent.” However, the wording of the initiative, as well as current Florida law, specifies that parents must be notified before an abortion occurs, not after.

“Minors do not have the same constitutional rights as adults, and the Florida Constitution recognizes this in the abortion context in the provision expressly allowing the Legislature to require parental notification,” said Quinn Yeargain, assistant professor of law at Widener University and expert in the field of law. state constitutional law.

“Although Section 22 only addresses notice and not consent, it still clearly indicates that there is a desire in the Constitution to limit abortion rights for minors,” Yeargain said.

The 2020 state law did not become enforceable until April 1, when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that constitutional privacy protections did not apply to abortions.

A 1989 Florida Supreme Court case had invalidated an earlier law requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions on the grounds that it violated Florida’s constitutional right to privacy. So while DeSantis has a point that the initiative could ultimately eliminate the consent requirement, Florida residents had been living without consent for more than 30 years until April.

“We do not know whether parental consent will later be interpreted as a delay or ban on abortion under the amendment, but we do know that the parental consent requirement has been considered unconstitutional since 1989,” said Louis Virelli, a law professor at Stetson University.