Fabiola Santiago

Giving parents the right to force minors to give birth is horrific | Opinion

The Future of Roe v. Wade: 3 Scenarios, Explained

Will a Supreme Court with two Trump-appointed justices overrule the right to an abortion? It’s possible, but not the most likely outcome. Adam Liptak, The Times’s Supreme Court reporter, explains.
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Will a Supreme Court with two Trump-appointed justices overrule the right to an abortion? It’s possible, but not the most likely outcome. Adam Liptak, The Times’s Supreme Court reporter, explains.

When you allow yourself to think through and visualize how the ordeal of an unwanted teen pregnancy would play out in Florida’s diverse families — if the Legislature passes anti-abortion bills being considered — the mental image is distressing,

Parents or legal guardians would be able to force their minor daughters to give birth against their will.

The tormented child, left to her own devices to fight for herself, would have to go before a judge for an opportunity to overrule them, and if found mature enough, then maybe obtain permission to end the pregnancy.

This would all happen with the clock ticking, as another proposed Florida law bans abortions once a heartbeat can be detected via a vaginal ultrasound, which can happen as early as six weeks — before a girl or a woman even knows she’s pregnant.

What a tragic scenario for everyone involved, but most of all for Florida’s girls.

Do mothers and fathers who love their kids really want that government-mandated, government-meddling scenario to be the law in Florida at a moment in a daughter’s life when so much hangs in the balance?

No matter your party affiliation or religious beliefs, you really need to think through this one, parents, because that’s what the GOP-dominated Legislature has in the works for our daughters and for women saddled with unwanted pregnancies.

Getting the government involved when your teen is pregnant is the last thing you need.

Your long-term relationship may not survive your exercising those parental rights to force your child into parenthood or into giving birth for adoption. It will destroy your family. I’ve seen it happen without government intervention. I can only imagine the extent of the suffering if parents forcing kids to give birth becomes the law.

Quickly passing through committees while better and truly necessary bills linger, Florida’s abortion bills aren’t pro-family or pro-life.

On the contrary, they will hurt desperate girls and women who will seek unsafe or self-inflicted abortions in secrecy wherever and however they can get them. They will leave home, seek help out of state or be thrown out of their homes and left at the mercy of human trafficking.

Abortion rights is an issue that affects a substantial number of women — and limits and restrictions impact poor and minority women without resources even more deeply.

Overall, one in four women have had an abortion by the age of 45, says Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.

Laws that limit and restrict access to safe abortions, she says, are “an effort to judge and shame women.”

She’s right.

Republicans in Florida and in red states around the nation have been chipping away for years at hard-fought reproductive rights won under Roe vs. Wade.

This legislative session, the Florida House is led by anti-abortion zealot José Oliva, a Miami Lakes Republican who has repeatedly referred to a pregnant woman as a “host body” (no, the Speaker gets no credit for apologizing after he endured backlash when he’s supporting anti-abortion legislation).

Republicans are acting to restrict safe abortions despite the warnings of medical professionals and most major medical associations that oppose measures like those in consideration in Florida because they endanger the health of girls and women.

Do you trust a politician with an agenda more than the American Medical Association, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, the American Public Health Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists?

But, you say, I have a right to know my child is pregnant and getting an abortion.

You already do.

Under Florida law, health providers are already required to notify the parents or the legal guardian of a minor seeking an abortion two days before the procedure can be performed. That’s plenty of time to talk to your teen, to give her advice, to persuade her to change her mind if that’s your goal.

That’s quite different from requiring your consent, which is what Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, and Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, are forcing adolescents to do with their linked bills, SB 1774 and HB 1335 and HB 1397.

“This would be a much higher burden,” says Goodhue.

Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, speaking on the floor of the Florida House. Grall’s bill requiring parental consent for a minor to obtain an abortion cleared its first committee stop Tuesday. Florida House of Representatives

Those bills go against medical advice.

“It is ultimately the pregnant adolescent’s right to decide who should be involved in the decision-making process and what the outcome of the pregnancy will be,” recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Abortion at any age is a personal, heartbreaking, and private decision. When the person involved is a minor, it’s nothing short of tragic.

Let’s not make it any worse — or riskier.

If the Florida GOP really cared about family and life, they would be addressing the shortcomings of healthcare access in the state instead of turning down billions of federal dollars for Medicaid expansion. They would be addressing gun violence as the epidemic that it is instead of hiding in cowardice from survivors of the Parkland shooting in Tallahassee to protest arming teachers.

And they wouldn’t be putting at risk the lives of teen girls — or women.

Award-winning columnist Fabiola Santiago has been writing about all things Miami since 1980, when the Mariel boatlift became her first front-page story. A Cuban refugee child of the Freedom Flights, she’s also the author of essays, short fiction, and the novel “Reclaiming Paris.”