State. Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, spoke to The Lakeland Ledger this past week about a bill she sponsored this session that changed some of the current laws for minors seeking a judicial bypass for the parental notice of abortion mandated by state law. While Stargel claims the bill provides some needed fixes, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has warned that the bill “endangers the health of young women” by infringing on privacy rights and lengthening the ruling time for a bypass.

Just as interesting, though, is Stargel’s own back-story with the legislation.

Stargel is the wife of a circuit court judge. Her husband, Circuit Court Judge John Stargel, is one of the few people in the state a young woman can appeal to in order to get a bypass for the parental notification for an abortion. Basically, when Kelli Stargel sponsored this legislation, she was making rules that directly affect how her husband does his day-to-day work.

Most importantly, she wrote rules for her husband that he initially wanted and sought when he was a state representative.

As a legislator, Judge Stargel tried to pass legislation similar to his wife’s bill, which would make it harder for young girls to get a bypass. As was previously reported by The Florida Independent, most of the provisions in Judge Stargel’s attempted legislation are now in the bill sponsored by his wife, which is awaiting the governor’s signature.

Opponents of this legislation are mostly concerned with the ramifications of this legislation. Spokeswomen for the ACLU of Florida and Planned Parenthood have called the bill “mean-spirited” and “problematic” for any young girl who faces the daunting task of seeking a judicial bypass during an already trying time in her life. The bill requires that parental waivers be notarized, it requires that young women only have access to courts where they reside and it extends the time a judge has to rule on a bypass.

The Legder reports that “Stargel said the current law allows a girl to be driven far from her home county to get judicial permission for an abortion without informing her parents.”

This was a concern that her husband tried to address as a representative; now Kelli Stargel has taken it up. During the bill’s passage, however, there was opposition on both sides of the aisle to this allegation.

Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, frequently confronted claims that young women were “shopping” for judges when seeking 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.’

Stargel’s bill would also extend the ruling period for a bypass up to 20 weeks, which opponents warn could have serious consequences.

However, Stargel told the Ledger that “the [current] 48-hour deadline creates burdens on the courts. Petitions filed on a Friday, she said, require a judge to come in over the weekend, appoint a public defender and find a court reporter.”

The Ledger points out that Stargel’s bill will complicate things by possibly forcing young women to wait until their second trimester (younger women tend to take longer to realize they are pregnant than older women do).

Gov. Rick Scott has already signed one abortion-restricting bill into law. Four others are awaiting his signature.

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