by Steven Ertelt
October 20, 2006
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Florida appeals court has approved a teenager’s request to have a secret abortion without her parents knowing. The ruling, which overturns a local judge’s decision, is exposing a problem in the state where virtually all of the waivers request to bypass parental notification are granted.
The unnamed teenager is about nine weeks pregnant and her parents don’t know yet. She wants to get an abortion without her parents knowing, but she doesn’t meet the intent of the judicial bypass.
The bypass is meant to be a provision that allows teenagers in problematic home situations involving abuse or potential abuse to get abortions without subjecting themselves to a threatening parent.
In this case, the teenager simply says she doesn’t want to have her baby because she fears it will derail her future education plans.
Tallahassee before Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey ruled that the teen was not mature enough to determine on her own if an abortion was in her best interest and said she may not be aware of the risks abortion poses. In a 2-1 decision the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned that ruling Wednesday on appeal, the St. Petersburg Times reported.
Although her parents are pro-life, the teen is not and the court assumed that their knowing about their young daughter’s pregnancy would damage her relationship with them.
The state legislature approved the parental notification provision and put it before voters, who overwhelmingly supported it on the 2004 ballot by a 65 to 35 percent margin.
Since July 2005, when the new law took effect, 548 teens have sought the judicial bypass, mostly with help from attorneys representing local abortion centers, and 514 of those requests have been granted, the Times indicated.
Part of the reason for the 94 percent judicial waiver approval rate is a new project by the ACLU, which targets a web site at teenagers to tell them how they can request legal help to obtain a secret abortion. Since March, the ACLU has pushed 172 teenagers into secret abortions through the court process.
ACLU lawyer Richard Benham represented the girl in the case the appeals court heard.
Pro-life advocates are appealed that the judicial bypass provision is being abused.
"I have heard many testimonies of minors who have given birth because of the parental notification law being in effect," Robin Hoffman, president of Florida Right to Life, told the Times newspaper.
"However, I have also spoken with others who tell me the judicial bypass is being abused."
Republican Rep. John Stargel of Lakeland has introduced a measure to tighten up the judicial bypass requirements and stop abortion advocates from taking teens to other parts of the state to get cases heard by pro-abortion judges.
However, someone else will need to support his measure because he recently was elected to a circuit court position and may be hearing parental notice cases.
Related web sites:
Florida Right to Life – https://www.frtl.org