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Florida courts implement new parental notification for abortion procedures

The Florida Supreme Court yesterday ordered courts to changes their procedures, implementing new rules created by a 2011 law making it harder for minors to obtain a judicial bypass around the the state’s parental notification before abortion law. Judicial bypasses are a way of protecting young women from possible harm, particularly young women who fear they will be abused or kicked out of their homes if a parent finds out she was seeking an abortion. Most parental notification laws have a judicial bypass provision.

However, few states has such strict restriction on access to a bypass as Florida now has. Opponents of Florida’s new law have said it “endangers the health of young women.”

The Associated Press reports that courts are now ordered to start following the changes in the process created by the new law:

One revision increases the time judges have to make rulings from 48 hours to three business days.

Another one repeals a provision that automatically grants a waiver if the deadline is missed.

Instead, the minor can ask the circuit’s chief judge to hold another hearing within 48 hours. That decision must come no later than 24 hours after the hearing.

The new law also requires judges to consider a minor’s maturity to make a decision on abortion.

The new restrictions also require that young women seeking a bypass have access only to the circuit court in which they reside. Before, young women could appeal to any circuit court in the state. Many argued the restriction could present a violation of privacy —especially for young women living in small towns. (Currently, this strict provision is only law in North Dakota.)

Another controversial aspect of the law has also been its history in the Florida Legislature. One of the last policy-makers to introduce the measure is married to the House sponsor of the law that is now in effect.

State Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, is the wife of John Stargel, who introduced a similar measure as a state senator in 2006. According to a LifeNews.com article, John Stargel has long been interested in giving judges less latitude in granting parental notification waivers.

John Stargel is now a circuit court judge, which means he is among a number of judges to whom young women can appeal in order to get a waiver for a parental notification needed to obtain an abortion.

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