Florida Legislature Won’t Vote Yet on Parental Notification
by Steven Ertelt
August 13, 2003
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Prefering to wait until the next general legislative session, Florida leaders decided against holding a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment requiring parental notification for a teen’s abortion.
Pro-life Gov. Jeb Bush and state Senate President Jim King, who is not pro-life, decided it would be better to wait than to force a vote now during a special session of the legislature called to vote on a very contentious medical malpractice insurance bill.
"It’s an important issue, but right now we’d prefer that the focus stay on medical malpractice," Bush spokesman Alia Faraj said.
House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, who is a candidate for the U.S. Senate next year, wanted to move forward now with a vote on the amendment. Byrd said the legislation should be approved this week so that it can clear anticipated court challenges before the election.
The Florida legislature must approve a constitutional amendment to get around a decision by the state Supreme Court declaring the law unconstitutional and a violation of the state’s "right to privacy" clause in the state constitution. Pro-life groups and elected officials believe the decision was erroneous and that the privacy clause does not protect unlimited rights to abortion.
"The ruling ignores the distinction between privacy and responsible parenting," said Byrd. "It is a shining example of judicial activism."
King said the legislature could take up the pro-life measure along with some other less controversial bills during another special session planned for October.
"The battle will continue weather it is in 2003 special session, or the 2004 legislative session, or the 2004 elections," Florida Right to Life president Robin Hoffman told LifeNews.com. "The parents of Florida will rise to the occasion when the time is right to do so."
Whenever the vote comes up, it will have the governor’s support.
"Gov. Bush was extremely disappointed at the Florida Supreme Court decision to strike down the parental notification law," Faraj explained. "A majority put minor limited rights to privacy over the parents’ absolute right to ensure the safety of their children."
According to National Right to Life, 38 states have parental involvement laws and 25 are currently in effect. In those states with such laws, the number of abortions has decreased.
The Florida state legislature passed the pro-life law in 1999 but it was never enforced because abortion advocates immediately took it to court.
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