By Jessica Goldberg, J.D., If/When/How Youth Access Counsel
Young people can still access abortion care in Florida, even though anti-abortion politicians have built more barriers to access by forcing young people to obtain parental consent for an abortion, even when it is not possible or safe for them to do so. Forced parental involvement laws like the one signed by Governor DeSantis on Tuesday undermine young people’s bodily autonomy, require young people to navigate a labyrinthine legal system that is not set up to serve their needs, and force young people to share the details of their personal lives with strangers in court hearings.
It’s notable that this new, increased restriction on young people’s abortion access goes into effect the same week that judges at the Supreme Court struck down yet another attempt at regulating abortion out of reach. The timing is a reminder that while the right to an abortion may be technically preserved for now, clinical abortion care remains difficult or impossible to access in practice for many, especially young people.
While June Medical maintains the status quo, the status quo for young people seeking abortion care is unacceptable. In 37 states, people under 18 are forced to involve a parent before accessing abortion care. Today, Florida becomes the sixth state to require both parental notice and consent before a young person can access an abortion. The Florida consent law going into effect the same week as the Supreme Court issued a reprieve in June Medical underscores what we’ve said before: Parental involvement laws are part of a decades-long escalation in tactics intended to prevent — by any means necessary — people from accessing or exercising their right to abortion.
If you’re under 18 and you need an abortion in Florida without involving your parent, you can still get a judicial bypass — permission from a judge to get the care you need. You’re not alone. Resources and networks exist to help support you in navigating this process; Floridians for Reproductive Freedom can help with basic questions about judicial bypass and provides a comprehensive list of courthouse information by county. For one-on-one support from an advocate, you can contact Jane’s Due Process by texting their hotline (866-999-5263). If/When/How’s own Judicial Bypass Wiki also has more information about how young people can access abortion in Florida.
We will continue to fight to improve and expand abortion access for young people across the country by working to eliminate the barriers of forced parental involvement laws, demystifying the onerous and invasive judicial bypass process, and, in the meantime, training legal professionals to support young people who need judicial bypasses. Right now, attorneys can take action to support young people’s abortion access by signing on to our open letter demanding an end to forced parental involvement laws, and sharing it widely with their professional networks.