The Florida Senate set the stage Wednesday for votes on controversial bills that would require women to undergo ultrasounds before having abortions and make changes in the state? parental-notification laws, reports the News Service of Florida. Senators heavily debated HB 1247, which would place new restrictions on minors who seek court approval to get abortions without their parents being notified. Part of the bill would restrict minors to seeking such approval within the judicial circuits where they live. Currently, they can go before judges anywhere in their appellate districts — a far-larger number of courts in some regions of the state. In a 20-19 vote, senators rejected a proposed amendment that would have allowed minors to continue seeking approval throughout the appellate districts. Amendment supporters said it was particularly important in rural areas, where local judges or courthouse workers would be more likely to know minors and their families. Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, said confidentiality is important because some minors could face violence if their parents find out they are pregnant and seeking abortions. But bill sponsor Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, said the current appellate-district system allows minors to travel from as far as Pensacola to Jacksonville to get judicial approval. Senators could vote as early as Thursday on the measure, which has already passed the House. Similarly, they could give final approval to the ultrasound bill (HB 1127). That requirement passed the Legislature last year but was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist.
Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.