Florida Senate Committee Tightens Judicial Bypass Abortion Rules

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 25, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 25
, 2007

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — A Florida state Senate committee passed a bill on Monday that would tighten the judicial bypass rules used when a teenager wants to get an abortion without telling her parents. The bill is meant to reduce the number of waivers granted as abortion businesses supply teens with attorneys to get around state law.

State Sen. Ronda Storms is the sponsor of the bill, which would require judges to consider more factors before allowing a teen’s abortion without her parents knowing.

Earlier this month, the Health Regulation Committee approved the bill unanimously on an 8-0 vote and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved it Monday 7-4.

Now it heads to the full Senate for a debate and vote.

The measure, SB 1602, would require the judge to take into account the more factors or criteria the teenager would have to meet to get the abortion. Those include the child’s credibility, emotional stability and "ability to understand and explain the medical consequences of terminating her pregnancy."

That’s good news to pro-life advocates, who point to figures from the Florida Office of the State Court Administrator showing 557 requests for abortion waivers filed in 2006. Of those, about 94 percent were granted.

It would also require the minor seeking the secret abortion to be appointed a guardian ad litem but Sen. Steven Geller, a Democrat, unsuccessfully tried to have that provision removed from the bill saying that a pro-life guardian couldn’t act objectively.

Sen. Don Gaetz, a Republican, disagree and, according to the Palm Beach Post, said "To presuppose that a guardian ad litem who is pro-life could not exercise her or his duty as assigned by the court might oversimplify the complexity of some people’s views in pro-life."

Sheila Hopkins, who helps head up the pro-life outreach for the Florida Catholic Conference, supports the bill and says it will help teenagers avoid abortions that can hurt them physically and emotionally.

“We know that abortion leads to depression, substance abuse and other kinds of risky behavior,” she told the Florida Catholic newspaper. “Those are the ways that girls deal with the pain of having destroyed their babies.”

Hopkins also supports the proposal because it would allow the appointment of a guardian ad litem for the teenage girl when she goes to court to seek a waiver. The guardian would be more likely to have her best interests at heart rather than a pro-abortion attorney more focus on getting her through the court system.

“An attorney is interested in legal issues, but isn’t necessarily helping the girl look at things from a life perspective,” Hopkins told the newspaper. “Helping her to consider the physical and psychological consequences of an abortion — that would be the job of the guardian ad litem.”

“It seems odd that it’s become an industry for abortion providers to train lawyers to help girls get bypasses,” she added.

Joan Crown, respect life director for the Archdiocese of Miami, told the Florida Catholic that many teenagers who get abortions later regret the decision.

“We have girls who come for post-abortion counseling who are trying to overcome the psychological effects of abortion,” she said. “Often they resent their parents because they felt they could not talk to their parents about their pregnancy.”

“They’ll say, ‘Oh my dad will kill me’ and I ask ‘When was the last time he committed homicide?’” she said.

Florida law requires that abortion facilities tell a teen’s parents she is considering having an abortion before it can be done. That came after voters approved a state ballot proposal with the requirement 65-35 percent.

Related web sites:
Florida Catholic Conference – https://www.flacathconf.org
Florida Right to Life – https://www.frtl.org
Florida legislature – https://www.leg.state.fl.us