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Parents' Right to Know

The angry debate over abortion is back at the Florida capitol. A bill approving an amendment protecting parents' rights overwhelmingly passed a house committee Tuesday

Florida's state constitution protects everyone's right to privacy, even children, but some lawmakers say parents' rights should come first.

The issue came up when the state Supreme Court used the privacy amendment to overturn a law requiring parents be notified if a minor child tries to get an abortion.

"It is absurd that we even have to be having this discussion today but the Supreme Court has made it very clear to us that they believe a minor's right to privacy outweighs a parents right to take care of their children,” says Rep. Sandra Murman.

Rep. Sandra Murman's bill to put an amendment protecting parent's rights in the state constitution will go before the full house for a vote this spring after getting the thumbs up in a legislative committee.

The bill's supporters don't want to make this about abortion, but the bill clearly references parents’ rights and the decision of a minor to get an abortion. Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings says the Bush administration fully supports a parents’ right to be notified if a child seeks an abortion, even if the Supreme Court doesn't agree.

“Probably at some juncture we'll have to ascertain whether that's how we make it constitutional, by putting it in our constitution,” says Jennings.

But Planned Parenthood's Stephanie Grutman says putting parent's rights in the constitution could backfire in the case of child's pregnancy that her parents didn't want.

“This absolutely opens the door for parents to try to force their children to have an abortion,” says Stephanie Grutman.

Supporters probably have the votes to pass the bill this spring, which means Florida voters would take up the parents’ rights debate in the fall.

If the parents’ rights bill passes, Florida would become the first state in the country to protect parents' rights in its state constitution.


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