By a 20-19 vote, the Senate defeated an amendment by Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, to ease restrictions imposed by a bill tightening requirements for notifying parents when a minor seeks an abortion. Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, is the sponsor of SB 1770, which among other things, forces minors to seek a judicial waiver for parental notification in circuit court, rather than a wider reaching appeal court district. Hays says the goal is to prevent teens from traveling across the state to find a sympathetic judge.
But Joyner, who was backed by several Republicans, argued that in tiny communities where everyone knows everyone including people who work in the courts, that requirement raises privacy and safety concerns for teens. The provision could cause a problem for a young woman who lives in an abusive home and in cases of rape or incest.
"There are parents out there who are unbelievably violent," said Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach.
Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, said its "absolutely wrong" to deny a girl as much privacy is possible in such situations.
"It's not their shame," he said, noting that some young women keep a rape a secret for years. He told his Republican colleagues that voting in favor of the amendment is not being "soft on abortion" but providing women some privacy and dignity.
"You can go back home and you can say you voted pro-life, you were solid on pro-life. But you can also then say, I also have compassion," he said.
In addition to Lynn and Bennett, GOP votes in favor of the amendment included Ellyn Bogdanoff, Thad Altman, Nancy Detert, Paula Dockery, Dennis Jones, Jack Latvala and Rene Garcia. Democrat Gary Siplin voted against it.