by Steven Ertelt
January 16, 2006
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — The frequency of judges in Florida to grant teenagers permission to have abortions and avoid the state’s parental notification law has pro-life advocates concerned. One state lawmakers plans legislation to tighten up the legal requirements for the judicial bypass.
More than 120 teenagers have appeared before judges in the last six months with a request to have an abortion without telling their parents. In most of the cases, the secret abortion is approved.
The judicial bypass provision was included in the bill to protect teens who are victims of abuse. But abortion advocates are exploiting the provision and hiring attorneys and legal experts to help teens in positive family situations obtain secret abortions.
Most of the requests have been made in Palm Beach and Orange counties and the teens involved are normally girls who are simply scared to tell their parents about their pregnancy or concerned about meeting their financial or scholastic needs.
Statistics from the Florida Supreme Court show that, between July and October, 92 girls filed for a judicial waiver and 65 of them came in the two counties.
Of those requests, 88 percent have been approved and three of the eleven dismissed by judges were successfully appealed.
Circuit Judge Maura Smith in Orange County, who has approved every request she’s heard, claims they are for legitimate reasons, according to a Sun-Sentinel newspaper report.
Rep. John Stargel, a Lakeland Republican says the "girl’s best interest" standard the law uses is too vague and is allowing judges to grant any abortion requests. He told the newspaper that wasn’t the intention of Florida voters who approved a parental notification constitutional amendment by a 65 to 35 percent margin.
"It leaves it wide open for the judge to make the determination that any negative consequence to the minor eliminates the parents’ right to know under the Florida Constitution," Stargel said.
Stargel will propose legislation that will give judges more time to thoroughly review each case — moving it from 48 hours to seven days. He also wants to make sure the provision applies only to girls who face personal harm from telling their parents.
Pro-abortion groups say if any changes are made to the law, they’ll take the changes to court.
"They can amend the law and have it struck down again and that would be great," ACLU of Florida attorney Randall Marshall told the Sun-Sentinel.
Marshall’s group is training lawyers on how to win judicial bypass cases and planning a web site targeting teenagers to tell them how to have a secret abortion.
According to the news report, the abortions are granted almost the same hour a teen is referred to the courts for the hearing.
"I think our longest wait was an hour and a half because it was lunch," Orlando lawyer Penny Jacobs, who handles many of the Orange County cases, said.
The legislature reconvenes for its 2006 session on March 7.