Florida Parental Notification Amendment Gets Senate Committee’s Approval
by Steven Ertelt
March 10, 2004
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — A proposal to amend the Florida constitution to allow parents to be notified when their minor daughter is considering an abortion got the approval of a Florida state Senate panel on Tuesday. But the legislative committee also made changes to the bill including adding rape and incest exceptions.
The need for the amendment came about as a response to two decisions by the Florida State Supreme Court that pro-life groups say misused the right to privacy clause in the state constitution to overturn two different parental involvement laws and declare an unlimited right to abortion.
If approved by the a three-fifths vote of legislature and subsequently by voters, the amendment would nullify the rulings and the privacy clause to allow state legislators to craft a notification law. Laws in other states that allow parents to be involved have proven effective in reducing the number of teen abortions.
The Health, Aging and Long-Term Care Committee approved the measure (CS-SJR 2178) on a 9-3 vote and sent it to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Similar House legislation (HJR 1) was ready for a final vote by the Florida House on Tuesday, but it was sent back to a committee to tighten up the language.
The bills differ in their approach. The House bill offers no specifics on how the notification is to take place while the Senate legislation says parents must be notified 48 hours in advance of the abortion.
"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 House version of the amendment reads.
The Senate bill also contains the rape and incest exceptions while House leaders want the parameters of a parental notification bill defined by the legislature after voters approved the constitutional amendment.
"If a child needs permission to go on a field trip to the zoo, then a child should at least notify the parent if she wants to terminate a pregnancy," said state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, according to the Orlando Sentinel. He sponsored the bill at the request of Senate President Jim King (R).
The amendment has the support of pro-life groups such as Florida Right to Life and the Florida Catholic Conference and is opposed by the ACLU, NOW and Planned Parenthood.
"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."