Florida Senate OKs Bill for Better Parental Notification on Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 25, 2011   |   5:08PM   |   Tallahassee, FL

A Florida state Senate committee passed a bill today that would strengthen the parental notification law voters approved years ago to ensure abortion advocates are not abusing it.

The measure, similar to legislation (HB 1247) a House committee approved in March, relates additional requirements for teenagers when they want to use the Supreme Court-mandated judicial bypass provision meant for rare occasions in which teenagers are concerned about physical abuse at home by revealing their pregnancy to their parents. Abortion businesses have abused the law by judge shopping and finding those who will approve the bypass for any occasion in which a teen merely doesn’t want to inform her parents of her potential abortion.

The bill extends the time a court has to rule on whether a teenager should be allowed to be exempt from the law to investigate the situation more extensively. The bill also eliminates part of the law that indicates the notification requirement is automatically waived if the court does not issue a ruling. And the bill requires teens who do get their parents’ permission to have the permission slip notarized to ensure it is legal.

Bill sponsor Alan Hays told the panel today the bill is needed because it is easier for teens to get an abortion than minor medication at school.

“The state will not allow a school nurse or a school teacher to give that student a Tylenol or an Advil with out parental permission yet they’re willing to let them terminate a pregnancy without parental permission. I just find that completely unacceptable,” said Hays.

The Senate Judiciary committee voted for SB 1770 and Hays said Florida needs to stop “judge-shopping” that happens when abortion centers find activist attorneys looking for judges to approve judicial bypasses instead of following state law and allowing parents to know when their minor daughters are considering a potentially life-threatening abortion.

“I think doctor shopping in the pill mill world is wrong,” Hays said. “I think judge-shopping is wrong.”

The bill was changed as it originally said “a minor may petition any circuit court in a judicial circuit within the jurisdiction of the District Court of Appeal,” but the new version, according to the Florida Independent, restricts access to the “circuit court in which the minor resides for a waiver of the notice.”

Maria Kayanan of the ACLU of Florida told lawmakers the limits are too strict and urged them to oppose the bill.

During House consideration of that version of the bill, Rep. Kelli Stargel, its sponsor, said: “I believe at this time [parents] are not being adequately notified. I am a parent and I see that as being a problem.”

The Orlando Sentinel newspaper indicated that, during the House committee hearing, lanned Parenthood of Florida indicated about 5,000 teen abortions were done in 2010 and 381 teens asked to waive the parental notification requirements. Rep. Richard Steinberg, a Democrat, opposed the legislation, which the  House Civil Justice Subcommittee passed 9-5 on a party-line vote.

In February 2006, a federal judge turned back a request from the Planned Parenthood abortion business to stop enforcement of the parental notification law. Senior U.S. District Judge William Stafford cited the Supreme Court’s decision in a case about a New Hampshire law as saying the court doesn’t think there is a basis for overturning such laws wholesale.

He noted the Supreme Court wrote that states have a right to require parental notification due to their “strong and legitimate interest in the welfare” of minor teens who need parental help in an unplanned pregnancy. “Florida has carefully crafted a parental notification statute that serves a compelling state interest,” Stafford said.

The law took effect on June 30 after Stafford refused to grant Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary injunction while the case progressed.

In 2004, Florida voters backed a constitutional amendment for parental notification, which received the support of 4,466,398 voters or 64.7 percent of the state’s residents. Only 35.3 percent of Florida voters (2,438,778) opposed it.