by Steven Ertelt
November 21, 2005
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — After a Florida court ruled a 17 year-old girl could have an abortion without telling her parents, a state lawmaker says he wants the state’s parental notification law tightened to prevent more cases like it.
Rep. John Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, says the court misread the judicial bypass provision in the law, which is meant to allow teens to have abortions without telling their parents only in abuse or medical emergency cases.
In the recent court ruling, the teen in question said without the abortion, the pregnancy would interfere wit her education. She also lamented having to tell her parents, who are pro-life Catholic and would have opposed the abortion.
"The exemption to parental notification was intended to be if there was a physical threat to a girl’s well-being, not simply because it was inconvenient," Stargel told The Ledger newspaper.
He said he would submit a proposal for a new bill to tighten the law when the legislature reconvenes for its 2006 session on March 7.
Pro-life groups and lawmakers were upset when a Florida appeals court overturned the ruling by Circuit Court Judge Ellen Master, who denied the abortion wavier. On Nov. 11, a three-judge panel of Lakeland’s 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned Masters’ decision.
Stargel said his bill would remove some of the vagueness in the law about when a waiver is acceptable, such as changing the "best interest of the minor" clause to "physical well-being."
"What is the best interest of the child? Mom and Dad won’t buy me a car?" Stargel said. "The clause was written to protect children who could be in harm’s way from a parent if told about the abortion."
Lawmakers approved the parental notification requirement in the 2005 legislative session after Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing it by a wide 65-35 percent margin.