Florida House Approves Parental Notification for Abortion Amendment
by Steven Ertelt
March 3, 2004
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — A pro-life proposal to amend the state constitution to allow parents to be notified when their teenage daughters are considering an abortion has made it past a preliminary vote of the Florida state House. A final vote in the chamber is expected tomorrow.
The measure comes as a response to two decisions by the Florida Supreme Court that pro-life groups say misused a privacy clause in the state constitution to overturn two different parental involvement laws.
"The legislature may by general law require notification of a parent or guardian of a minor prior to the performance of an abortion on the minor," the amendment reads.
The legislation (HJR 1) and a companion bill in the Senate (SB 2178) would require a vote from both three-fifths of both chambers. If approved, the proposal would go on the ballot to be decided by voters.
"We want parents to be involved in these important medical decisions of their children," state Rep. Sandra Murman, the House sponsor, told the Associated Press.
House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, who is running for the U.S. Senate, is another key sponsor and 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."
Rep. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, countered that legislation can never force parents and children to communicate.
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.
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.