Florida ‘abduction’ bill? Opponents call it ‘legal kidnapping.' What does the bill say?

The Florida Senate passed what opponents are calling the Florida “abduction” bill (SB 254) in a 27-12 vote on April 4, advancing the bill to the Florida House.

Senator Clay Yarborough, who introduced the bill, said the bill is meant to protect children from “drastic life-altering gender dysphoria therapies and surgeries” that he said are being prescribed for children. He argued that both parents should have a say in whether their child receives gender-affirming care.

Opponents say the bill would allow children to be “kidnapped” by disagreeing parents — even if the opposing parent lives across state lines — and it would prevent kids experiencing gender dysphoria from receiving the care they need.

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What is the ‘abduction’ law in Florida?

Senate Bill 254 is a Florida bill that was introduced by Senator Clay Yarborough and co-introduced by Senators Keith Perry and Doug Broxson on March 3 that passed the Florida Senate on April 4 with a 27-12 vote.

The bill would grant Florida courts temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child present in the state if the child has been subject to or is “threatened” with being subjected to sex-assignment prescriptions or procedures; providing that, for purposes of warrants to take physical custody of a child in certain child custody enforcement proceedings, serious physical harm to the child includes, but is not limited to, being subjected to sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures; prohibiting certain public entities from expending state funds for the provision of sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures; requiring certain licensed facilities, by a specified date and as a condition of licensure thereafter, to provide a signed attestation of specified information to the Agency for Health Care Administration; prohibiting sex-reassignment prescriptions and procedures for patients younger than 18 years of age, etc.

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The bill would effectively let courts modify out-of-state custody agreements by allowing dissenting parents to petition courts to take “emergency jurisdiction” of their child if they received gender-affirming care or are “threatened” with gender-affirming care.

Parents, guardians and medical providers helping minors receive gender-affirming care would be subject to criminal penalties for violating the new law. According to the bill, licensed medical facilities and medical providers who provide care to trans people under 18 would risk revocation of their medical licenses and could be charged with a third-degree felony.

State funds would also be prohibited from being used for gender-affirming care.

Track the bill: Senate Bill 254 - Treatments for sex reassignment

What do opponents say about the bill?

Several civil rights organizations have come out against the bill saying that it is a dangerous bill that threatens the lives of trans kids in Florida.

In a press release sent out after the Florida Senate advanced the bill, Legislative Director and Senior Policy Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida Kara Gross said “SB 254 is an egregious attack on Florida children who have a right to safe healthcare just like anyone else. It is an extreme example of government overreach into private medical decisions that will inflict harm on individuals experiencing gender dysphoria and prevent them from accessing the health care they need.”

Democratic leaders in Florida have also spoken out about the bill. Sen. Shevrin Jones told Florida Politics that lawmakers should represent all of their constituents.

“When we take that oath of office, we don’t take the oath of office and say, ‘I’m going to go support the people who look like me, act like me and do like I do.’ We take the oath of office to say we are going to support and we will protect all people.”

And Sen. Lori Berman called the bill contradictory.

“I would say free states don’t ban health care,” Berman said, noting that national medical associations have endorsed gender-affirming care for minors. “This bill is wrong on the way it attacks transgender adults, wrong on the way it attacks parents’ rights to raise their children, and wrong on how it puts medical professionals at risk.”

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What is the current status of the ‘abduction’ law in Florida?

Senate Bill 254 passed the Florida Senate in April in a 27-12 vote. The bill advanced to the House where its status is “in messages.”

According to the state senate’s website, “in messages” is a term that refers to the location of a bill passed by a chamber en route to or residing in the other chamber for consideration.

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Florida ‘abduction’ bill advances to House but what is it?