MIAMI – As Florida’s Republican-controlled state legislature moves towards implementing one of the more restrictive abortion laws in the country, teenage girls in the state are reacting to the seismic shift.
Teenage girls are now coming of age in a historic time, living in a nation without federal protections for abortion access and, for some, state-level abortion bans.
“The last couple of years have been really hard on teens,” said Child Trends Senior Research Scientist Dr. Hannah Lantos. “If the bans are at six weeks, many of these adolescents won’t know they are pregnant.”
“The consequences are especially dire for young people in terms of risk not completing high school, not being about to pursue a secondary education,” added Texas Woman’s University Counseling Psychology Professor Dr. Debra Mollen.
Teens are processing the information and having passionate debates on the issue at a time federal data from the CDC shows girls are experiencing record high levels of sadness and sexual violence.
“Stress and anxiety are at really high levels, and the tenor of this discussion is probably not reducing that stress,” said Lantos, who co-authored a child trends research paper which found “teens to be uniquely — and perhaps disproportionately — impacted by additional state-level abortion restrictions.”
“Because many teens don’t have regular menstrual cycles, they will not know that they are pregnant by the time they no longer have access to abortion services,” said Lantos.
Florida lawmakers are considering an abortion bill with conditional exceptions for rape and incest that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
“It is a perfect storm really, unfortunately, for escalating teen pregnancy and parenting,” said Mollen. “One of the things we know is very helpful is comprehensive sex education, but unfortunately that is also something that is very state-dependent.”