Should Florida’s House Bill 1335 become law, pregnant teens who do not have their parents’ or guardians’ permission to have an abortion will have to petition the court for a waiver and convince a judge that they’re mature and capable enough to make that decision. The irony is that a judge can deny the request if they find an expectant teen too immature to terminate her pregnancy — but not too immature to then go on to raise a child.
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As Newsweek reports, the controversial bill — which was approved last week by 10 votes to four by the Florida House Health Quality Subcommittee, moving on to the Judiciary Committee — would require young women to present “clear and convincing evidence” of their maturity in order to obtain a waiver from the court. Under the bill, the judge would consider factors such as age, intelligence, emotional development and stability, ability to grasp the potential health risks and “consequences” of her decision, willingness to take on responsibility and “credibility and demeanor as a witness.”
Theoretically, a teen who is considered insufficiently able to take on responsibility could be denied a waiver to get an abortion without parental consent, therefore forcing her to potentially take on the greatest responsibility of all: motherhood.
“If that judge doesn’t deem you mature enough to have an abortion, that judge is deeming you mature enough to have a child, and that is daunting,” Kim Scott, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, told Newsweek.
The catch-22 logic behind the bill has also stirred up backlash on Twitter.
But it’s not unheard of. As critics noted, similar bills exist in 37 states besides Florida. Others pointed out that teens who fail to get waivers could opt to put the baby up for adoption rather than raising a child, which could create “trauma” of its own.
The bill was introduced just days after Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva came under fire for referring to pregnant women as “host bodies” in an interview about abortion which aired on CBS Miami.
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