Florida voters are likely to be asked to approve a constitutional amendment giving parents the right to be notified if their daughter is seeking an abortion. The cause is being championed by “Right to Life” groups and the House speaker, but even they are having to compromise.
The state Constitution gives teenage girls the right of privacy when it comes to reproductive rights. Since 1998 the Legislature has sought to require notice to parents when teens seek an abortion.
Each time the courts have refused, so now lawmakers led by the House speaker want to change the Constitution.
"Florida has one of the lowest levels of parental rights in the country when it comes to abortion by minors," says Sandy Murman.
House Speaker Johnnie Byrd is the amendments prime sponsor, and critics argue it's an effort to boost Byrd's U.S. Senate campaign among conservatives.
All of the major groups have representatives in the gallery during the debate.
"Byrd say no, we are going to have our way we will be involved with our children, it will not be several judges making the decision for the millions of people in this state," says Carole Griffin.
On the House floor, democrats tried to exempt rape or incest victims and to include the parents of the father in the notice requirements. Each time they failed. The House speaker wanted the constitutional amendment to be much more restrictive, then he realized he was likely to get nothing.
"While the Senate will certainly vote overwhelmingly in support of parental notification it would not do so in parental consent," says Senate President, Jim King.
Voters will have the final say on notifying parents and the issue is likely to take center stage in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate.
The Parental Rights Amendment does not automatically require parents to be notified if their daughter seeks an abortion. The Legislature will have to pass a separate bill for that to happen.
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