Florida House Considers Bill Making Certain Abortion Provider Activities a Third-Degree Felony
On April 17, the Florida House considered legislation requiring minors seeking an abortion to first obtain parental consent. If it passes and is signed into law, any doctors or other healthcare providers involved in providing abortions to minors would face severe criminal consequences.
While Florida already has a parental notification requirement for minors when it comes to abortions, the measure would go one step further by technically requiring approval from parents or legal guardian, and changing the charge for healthcare providers who fail to obtain that written consent from a first-degree misdemeanor to third-degree felony.
How The Proposal Would Change The Current Law
Under the current law, any doctors who perform an abortion on a minor without parental notification can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor. The proposed legislation would change this to become more severe, and mandate that doctors and other healthcare providers involved in performing the procedure on a minor without first obtaining the parental consent form could face a third-degree felony. While the legislation does build in a limited exemption for minors who have been the subject of abuse, it would also still require that those minors first obtain a judgement from a judge that they are “sufficiently mature” for the procedure.
Concerns From The Medical Community & Others
A number of pro-choice advocates are now concerned that the legislation is simply about restricting access to abortion, and could lead to minors being forced into pregnancy and birth.
The medical community is also concerned that this legislation too quickly turns doctors into criminals, and would place a number of the relevant obligations on the doctor; placing that doctor in the compromised position of making the minor (their patient) even more physically and emotionally vulnerable than they already might be. There is no question that, for some minors, seeking counsel from their family could place them in danger, and this could therefore place doctors in difficult positions of becoming criminals in an effort to protect their patients. Perhaps that is why the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics oppose the legislation.
Does It Have a Chance of Becoming Law in Florida?
The Senate version of the bill has already passed its first committee and, according to Governor DeSantis, well he has not yet taken a close look at the bills, he generally supports the requirements that it proposes.
If You Have Been Charged with A Crime in Florida, Contact Our Criminal Defense & Civil Rights Attorneys
If you are a healthcare provider or other professional who has been charged with a criminal offense in Florida, the best thing that you can do is consult an experienced, knowledgeable, aggressive criminal defense attorney to find out what to do and what your rights are. Contact our experienced Orlando criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out more about our services.