Storms: Tighten teen abortion waiver

Published February 14, 2007

TALLAHASSEE — Sen. Ronda Storms wants to make it more difficult for minors to get abortions without getting their parents’ permission.

The Brandon Republican filed a bill in the Senate this week that would narrow  the state’s parental notification law that allows some girls who are 17 years or younger to ask judges to allow them to get an abortion without asking their parents.

Judges have the authority to waive the notice rule based on a girl’s maturity and best interests or if she’s been abused by a parent or guardian.

Under Storms’ bill, judges would have to consider specific factors like the child’s credibility, emotional stability and “ability to understand and explain the medical consequences of terminating her pregnancy.”  

Storms didn’t return several calls for comment on Thursday.

The bill has no companion in the House yet, but it’s similar to a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, last year.

“I do know that there was quite a bit of angst among some of the members who felt like we left a judicial bypass you could drive a semitruck through,” said Baxley, who is in a leadership position in the House this year. He said he hasn’t spoken with Storms but he likes the idea.

Stephanie Grutman, executive director of the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said her organization is concerned about the bill.

“The law has only been in effect a year and a half,” Grutman said, saying that the waiver process is not perfect but getting better.

“These girls are not criminals, they need to be provided with compassionate treatment and a streamlined process a teenager can understand.”