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Florida

State Constitutional Protection

The Florida Constitution protects the right to choose as a fundamental right and to a greater extent than the U.S. Constitution.  However, a 2004 ballot initiative amending the Florida Constitution limits this protection for minors.

Previously, the Florida Supreme Court had struck down under the state constitutional right to privacy, a law requiring either parental consent or a judicial waiver before a minor may obtain an abortion.  In re T.W., 551 So. 2d 1186 (Fla. 1989).  The Florida Supreme Court also struck down under the state's constitutional right to privacy, a law requiring either parental notice or a judicial waiver before a minor may obtain an abortion.  N. Flor. Women's Health & Counseling Svcs., Inc. v. State, 866 So. 2d 612 (Fla. 2003).  Similar restrictions have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court under the U.S. Constitution.  Planned Parenthood Ass'n of Kansas City v. Ashcroft, 462 U.S. 476 (1983); Hodgson v. Minnesota, 497 U.S. 417 (1990).

However, in response to the court's decision in N. Flor. Women's Health and Counseling Svcs., Inc. v. State, state legislators passed a joint resolution to amend the state constitution.  The resolution, which then became a ballot initiative approved by a majority of Florida voters in 2004, modifies the state constitution to remove this right to privacy for minors in the context of abortion.  The amendment permits the legislature to require parental notification regardless of a minor's state constitutional right of privacy, as long as the parental-notification law provides for exceptions and a judicial bypass.  Therefore, while the constitutional amendment does not establish a parental-notification law in and of itself, the amendment permits the Florida legislature to do so without violating minors' privacy rights.


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