Florida Seeks Alternative to Reinstate Parental Notification Law
by Steven Ertelt
July 13, 2003
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — With the Florida Supreme Court overturning the state’s parental notification law, pro-life Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) and leading pro-life legislators and groups are contemplating what to do next.
House Speaker Johnnie Byrd spoke with Governor Bush on Sunday and Bush agreed to let the legislature take the lead in restoring the law. Byrd asked the governor to add parental notification as a topic in the upcoming special session.
One plan is to pass a constitutional amendment to neutralize the "right to privacy" clause in the state constitution that the Florida Supreme Court used as their basis in striking down the law. The legislature could adopt an amendment making it abortion neutral or propose an amendment saying that right of parents to be notified before their teenage daughter has an abortion is an exception to the privacy clause.
Byrd said he plans to talk Monday with Senate President Jim King to determine the direction but may prefer the latter approach.
"I want to have the Legislature pass a joint resolution that amends the Florida Constitution that will put the substance of the parental notification bill into the Florida Constitution in a way that is very clear that it supersedes the general right to privacy clause," Byrd told the Associated Press.
Either way, pro-life legislative leaders have the support of Governor Bush.
"Gov. Bush was extremely disappointed at the Florida Supreme Court decision to strike down the parental notification law," Bush spokeswoman Alia Faraj said Sunday. "A majority put minor limited rights to privacy over the parents’ absolute right to ensure the safety of their children."
Sen. Daniel Webster (R) who sponsored the 1988 consent law, said amending the constitution may be the only way to have a parental notification requirement.
A constitutional amendment could be placed on the ballot by a three-fifths vote of the House and Senate, or by a petition drive.
While Mathew Staver, president of the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, a pro-life legal group, considers an amendment a possibility, he said pro-life advocates already are working on legislation that might satisfy the Supreme Court.
The Court said abortion was singled out whereas teenagers can place a baby for adoption or obtain treatment for sexually transmitted diseases without parental notification. Staver said he group might work with legislators to pass a broad notification bill that encompasses all three.