Florida Lawmakers Win First Step of Parental Notification Abortion Battle
by Steven Ertelt
February 17, 2004
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — The next skirmish in the battle over parental notification in Florida has begun. The fight has pitted pro-life lawmakers with a court that has misused a section of the Florida constitution to strike down pro-life laws letting parents be involved in their teenage daughters’ abortion decisions.
The Florida legislature has twice passed the parental involvement legislation.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-1 that the second parental notification law, passed in 1999, was unconstitutional because it violated privacy rights specifically granted in the Florida Constitution. The first, passed in 1988, was ruled unconstitutional in 1989.
In response, pro-life lawmakers have crafted a constitutional amendment that, if approved by the legislature and, subsequently by voters, would ensure that the privacy clause does not affect abortion laws.
The amendment would allow pro-life legislation, such as a parental notification bill, the chance to become law.
On Tuesday, a state House panel approved the constitutional amendment.
House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, who is running for the U.S. Senate, conducted hearings over the summer leading up to this proposed amendment.
"It will provide Florida voters with the opportunity to decide how much they value the rights of parents,” said Byrd
Pro-life organizations support the measure, while abortion advocates oppose it.
“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."
The proposal "makes minors property of their parents,” Stephanie Grutman, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Florida, told the Associated Press. "They want to get at every aspect of our life. Privacy is our most fundamental, basic right.”
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.
The new legislation (HJR 159), called the Florida Parental Rights Amendment, needs three-fifths of the 120-member House and 40-member Senate to go before voters in November.