Florida Legislature Starts Third Attempt on Parental Notification

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 24, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Legislature Starts Third Attempt on Parental Notification

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
November 24, 2003

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Florida legislators are working on a third attempt at a parental notification law for their state. This time, they are attempting to change the state constitution.

Rep. Sandra Murman (R-Tampa) wants to change Florida’s privacy rights by proposing an amendment to the state constitution, which currently gives children as much privacy rights as adults. Murman said such a change "Would open the door to parental notice, to parental consent.

"Right now we cannot put any [pro-life] public policy into effect without this change," Rep. Murman warned.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-1 that the second parental notification law, passed in 1999, was unconstitutional as it violated privacy rights specifically granted in the Florida Constitution. The first, passed in 1988, was ruled unconstitutional in 1989.

Currently the constitution grants a right to privacy to "natural persons." It is being considered, among other changes, to change this term to "adults."

According to Murman, Florida is one of 14 states that has no parental notification or consent law for teen abortions. Similar laws in other states have proven effective in reducing the number of abortions.

“Parents need to know when someone performs surgery on their daughters. Teens have experienced serious complications and death from legal abortions in Florida. Evidence shows that after parental involvement laws are put in effect, the teenage pregnancy rate goes down, the teenage abortion rate goes down, and the teenage birthrate goes down,” said Robin Hoffman, President of Florida Right to Life.

"In Florida, if your daughter is under 18, she cannot get a tattoo, get an aspirin at school or go on a school trip without you knowing it," Hoffman told LifeNews.com. "But your underage daughter can get a surgical abortion without you knowing it."

"This is a debate on rights of parents to raise their children," said House Judiciary Chairman Jeff Kottkamp (R-Cape Coral). Kottkamp said the Supreme Court reading of Florida’s privacy laws grants the same privacy right to a 7-year-old as to an adult.

"At some point you have to apply some common sense," Kottkamp said.

The legislation has been championed by House Speaker Johnnie Byrd (R-Plant City), as hearings have been conducted statewide in the past months. However, even if the House is won over, the Senate must also pass the resolution.

The Senate has not shown any interest, Kottkamp said Wednesday. Therefore the House committee is not pushing for a quick resolution — meaning final wording may not be completed until January.

If the issue is on the ballot in November, it will coincide with the presidential election.

Related web sites:
Florida Right to Life – https://www.frtl.org