Florida on brink of nation’s strictest parental notification abortion billby Dara Kam | May 4th, 2011
Florida lawmakers are poised to make the state’s parental notification of abortion laws stricter, making it more difficult for a minor to get a judges’ approval for the procedure.
By a 20-19 vote today, the Florida Senate rejected an amendment that would have kept the current law allowing minors to get a waiver from a judge anywhere in the appellate circuit in which she lives. The bill (SB 1770, HB 1247) instead would limit girls seeking the waiver to the circuit court.
That’s problematic for minors who live in rural communities or small counties whose family members are likely neighbors of or on close terms with courthouse workers or observers, argued Democrats and some Republicans, putting her confidentiality at risk. Many of the young women seeking the judicial permission for the abortions are victims of rape or incest, they said.
“I’m sorry that some people in here don’t understand that there are families where if a young woman goes to them she could be beaten or even killed because of…incest or rape,” said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston. “We should not be doing anything to place further barriers in front of these young women…There is no need to change this.”
But Sen. Alan Hays, who sponsored the bill, said that young women have plenty of opportunity to see a judge in their own community and should not be allowed to judge-shop.
“I find it preposterous that a young lady…might be put in a vehicle and transported all the way from Escambia County to Duval County just so she can get an abortion without her parents knowing about it,” Hays, R-Umatilla, said.
Abortion rights advocates contend that the measure, already approved by the House and expected to be passed by the Senate tomorrow, would make Florida’s parental notification laws the strictest in the nation.
The Senate tomorrow is also expected to approve a separate anti-abortion measure requiring women to have ultrasounds before they get abortions. They would also be required to view and listen to a description of the ultrasound unless they refuse in writing. Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a similar measure last year. The House has already passed that bill (HB 1127) as well, and Gov. Rick Scott has indicated he will sign it into law.
In all, lawmakers are expected to approve a total of four anti-abortion measures before the session ends Friday. In addition to the two discussed today, lawmakers in both chambers have already approved one bill that would let voters decide if they want to prohibit state money from being used to pay for abortions and another bill that would bar insurance policies purchased under the federal health care law from covering abortions.
The Senate is ignoring two other abortion-related bills approved by the House. The first (HB 1397, SB 1748) ) would create restrictions on abortion clinics. The second (HB 501, SB 196) would channel money from ‘Choose Life’ license plate sales to the nonprofit Choose Life Inc. to give to agencies that assist women placing their children for adoption.