The Florida Supreme Court Thursday overturned a state law requiring minors to have parental consent for abortions, saying the law violated privacy rights guaranteed women and minors under the state constitution.
All seven justices agreed the privacy provision adopted by Florida voters in 1980 clearly encompasses a woman's right to abortion prior to the point where the fetus becomes viable. Four of the justices went further, saying minors also enjoy a privacy right to abortion under the state Constitution.The ruling comes five days before the Florida Legislature is to meet in special session to debate the state's abortion laws. Activists on both sides have promised to gather in Tallahassee to campaign.
The majority of the court recognized the state's interests in protecting immature minors and the integrity of the family but said those interest are not compelling enough to intrude on a minor's right to terminate a pregnancy. The ruling said state law permits minors to consent without parental approval to other medical procedures involving pregnancies being carried to term.
The ruling comes three months after oral arguments on a challenge filed in May by a 15-year-old Lake County girl who was 11 weeks pregnant at the time and wanted an abortion.
A trial judge found the state parental-consent requirement too vague, but he refused to allow the abortion. A state appeal court ruled the statute unconstitutionally vague, and the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case and returned it without comment to the Florida Supreme Court.
The girl identified only as "T.W." said she sought an abortion with the consent of the father. The girl told the courts that if she told her mother about her plans, "it would kill her." Thursday's opinion also noted that the girl went ahead and had the abortion once the state appeal court cleared the way.