TALLAHASSEE — Republican lawmakers in Florida moved closer to enacting legislation to require parental consent before a minor can get an abortion, clearing a key hurdle Thursday in the state Legislature.
After a civil but passionate hourlong debate, the chamber voted 23-17 along party lines to endorse the measure, which now awaits action in the state House. Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has said he supports the effort in the GOP-led Legislature.
Florida would join 26 other states in requiring at least one parent give written permission authorizing a doctor to terminate the pregnancy of a minor. Doctors who perform abortions without the parental consent of a girl under 18 would face up to five years in prison for a third-degree felony.
“This is not a pro-choice, pro-life bill,’’ said Kelli Stargel, a Republican from central Florida, who sponsored the bill. She recounted her own experience as a pregnant teenager in deciding against terminating her pregnancy.
“It’s about whether or not you’re going to have an adult be involved with difficult decisions with children,” she said.
Other Republicans expressed outrage that children must get parental permission to get a tattoo or their ears pierced but don’t currently need permission to get an abortion.
Abortion rights advocates say the proposal would further erode protections under Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark US Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Since then, abortion opponents have sought to restrict access, particularly on the state level where debate has intensified in recent years over funding abortion providers and defining when life begins.
“I don’t believe the state of Florida should force children to have children,” said Senator Lauren Book, a South Florida Democrat, who spoke against the bill.
A similar effort passed the House last year, but the corresponding Senate bill failed to make it out of committees for full Senate debate — which made the Senate’s approval on Thursday all the more significant.