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The Nation

Florida Parent-Notification Abortion Law Struck Down

July 11, 2003|From Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law signed by Gov. Jeb Bush that required parents to be notified at least 48 hours before their daughters under 18 could obtain abortions.

By a 5-1 vote, the justices said the 1999 law violates privacy rights guaranteed under the Florida Constitution.

The opinion reinforced and relied heavily on a similar state Supreme Court decision that overturned a parental-consent abortion law in 1989. That decision also rested on the state constitution's explicit privacy guarantee.

Senior Justice Leander J. Shaw Jr. said the state's privacy guarantee is stronger than rights provided by the U.S. Constitution.

Lawmakers had passed a similar bill in 1998 but it was vetoed by Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat. Bush, a Republican, signed the bill a year later, but it was never enforced because of the legal challenge from abortion providers.

The ruling was criticized by Bush, an abortion opponent.

"It's hard to imagine we live in a society where parents wouldn't be notified of an abortion," he said.

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