Parents’ Rights and Children's Privacy Questions Face the Florida Legislature

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Florida's state constitution protects everyone's right to privacy, even children, but some lawmakers say parents' rights should come first. The issue came up when the state supreme court used the privacy amendment to overturn a law requiring parents be notified if a minor child tries to get an abortion.

State Rep. Sandra Murman of Tampa is one of the sponsors of a bill to put an amendment protecting parents’ rights in the state constitution. It will go before the full House of Representatives for a vote this spring after betting the thumbs up in a legislative committee.

“It is absurd that we even have to be having this discussion Tuesday, but the Supreme Court has made it very clear to us that they believe a minor's right to privacy outweighs a parents right to take care of their children.”

Supporters don't want to make this about abortion, but the bill clearly references parent's rights and the decision of a minor to get an abortion. Lt. Governor Toni Jennings says the Jeb Bush administration fully supports a parent's right to be notified if a child seeks an abortion, even if the Supreme Court doesn't agree.

“Probably at some juncture we'll have to ascertain whether that's how we make it constitutional, by putting it in our constitution.”

But Planned Parenthood's Stephanie Grutman says putting parent's rights in the constitution could backfire in the case of child's pregnancy that her parents didn't want. “This absolutely opens the door for parents to try to force their children to have an abortion.”

But supporters probably have the votes to pass the bill this spring and that means Florida voters would take up the parent's rights debate in the fall at the polls. If the parents’ rights bill passes, Florida would become the first state in the country to protect parents' rights in its state constitution.