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Governor signs parental notice bill

Doctors will soon have to inform parents before performing an abortion on a minor.

By Associated Press
Published May 26, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill Wednesday that requires physicians tell parents when a minor daughter seeks an abortion.

Bush signed a similar bill into law in 1999 but the courts blocked it, finding it violated the privacy provision in the Florida Constitution.

But voters last fall overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment carving out an exception to the privacy guarantee so that the next abortion notice law would have a better chance of withstanding a court challenge.

The Legislature, which had proposed the constitutional change, passed the law on the final day of this spring's two-month session.

The law, which takes effect July 1, applies to girls 17 and younger who aren't married and don't already have children. Unless it is a medical emergency, doctors are required to notify a parent in person or by phone 48 hours before the abortion or, if that's not possible, by certified mail 72 hours in advance.

Girls can go to a judge and seek a waiver, and judges can grant a waiver based on a girl's level of maturity, or because she has been a victim of abuse by her parents, or if telling the parents is not in the girl's best interest.

In a release issued by his office, the governor said it was imperative that parents know when their children undergo any surgical procedure.

"This not only ensures the safety of our children, but also strengthens the family unit by maintaining open dialogue between parent and child," Bush said.

State lawmakers this spring passed another abortion bill, which arrived in the governor's office Wednesday. That legislation would impose stricter state oversight on clinics that perform second-trimester abortions.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it had decided to review a parental notice law from New Hampshire.

The justices will decide whether health exceptions are required in abortion laws requiring parental notification. A lower court struck down New Hampshire's law.

In its last major abortion decision in 2000, the nation's high court ruled that state abortion laws must provide an exception to protect the mother's health.

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