Efforts to roll back restrictions for a minor seeking a judicial bypass to a mandatory parental notice for an abortion failed today during the last action before the bill’s final vote tomorrow in the Florida Senate.
Both Republicans and Democrats expressed their opposition to a provision in Senate Bill 1770 that limits which courts a minor has open to her when seeking a judicial bypass to the parental notification.
State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, offered an amendment to the bill that would retain current law allowing a minor to “petition any circuit court in a judicial circuit within the jurisdiction of the District Court of Appeal in which she resides for a waiver of the notice,” as opposed to only the “circuit court in which the minor resides.”
Joyner said the current bill would put a minor at risk of losing her privacy. She said a young women needs access to more that one court because she risks her “confidentiality.”
“If she lives in a small county and there is only one court there,” she explained, “then probably everyone there knows her.”
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, said during a committee meeting that he sees the bill as a way to limit “judge-shopping.”
Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, strongly supported Joyner’s amendment.
“When somebody needs a judicial bypass it is because of a circumstance in which they actually need a judicial bypass,” she explained, “whether it be privacy, rape, incest — who knows what the issue is. And in small communities, and even in communities like Broward and Palm Beach county, the courthouse is a small community. Everybody knows one another.”
Bogdanoff also confronted Hays’ claims that young girls are “shopping” for a judge to grant them a bypass.
“We are not talking about shipping somebody from Miami to Jacksonville so that they can ‘judge-shop,’” she said. “I know that’s what a lot of people think they are going to do is ‘judge-shop.’ There are very, very few minors that look for the judicial bypass, but when they do, it is because of serious concerns. In order to protect the privacy of these young women and make sure that they are not at risk when they go home, I don’t think it is unreasonable for us to accept this amendment.”
Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, also stood in support of retaining current law.
“To deny a child that is in this fix to be able to go to a court where she can keep her secrecy,” he said, “where she can have not the neighbors know, not the judges know, the friends down the street know of the box that she is in — to deny her that opportunity is absolutely wrong. This is the correct amendment.”
Bennett also pointed out that he felt that the girls are not “shopping.”
Hays said, “All we are doing is restricting the ability of some people who are counseling these women to have abortions to go out and shop all the way across the panhandle of Florida across through other county lines getting the right judge that will smile favorably on their petition.”
Joyner’s amendment failed by one vote.
Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, also filed an amendment that would grant a minor the petition “if the court fails to rule within the 3 business days period and an extension has not been requested.” The amendment would have replaced current language that requires a minor to “immediately petition for a hearing upon the expiration of the 3-business-day period to the chief judge of the circuit, who must ensure a hearing is held within 48 hours after receipt of the minor’s petition and an order is entered within 24 hours after the hearing.”
Rich pointed out that it is very unlikely that a young woman even knows how to find the chief judge of the circuit.
Rich’s amendment also failed. The bill was placed on the tomorrow’s calendar for a final vote.