ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and a Florida Family Appeal Court Ruling Upholding Misleading Ballot Proposal That Limits Teens' Privacy Rights

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
August 19, 2004 12:00 am

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TALLAHASSEE, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, two Florida Planned Parenthood affiliates, and a Florida family appealed a court ruling today that dismissed their challenge to a ballot proposal to amend the state constitution in order to restrict teens’ access to abortion.

“”Because this ballot proposal fails to inform Florida voters that adoption of this amendment will radically change privacy rights, we are asking for an expedited review of this case on appeal,”” said Diana Kasdan, an attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project who argued the case. “”This challenge is about telling voters the truth before they cast their November votes.””

The ballot proposal would amend the constitution to authorize the state legislature to pass a law requiring parental notification before a teen can obtain an abortion. However, the proposal fails to inform voters that the amendment will take away privacy rights granted under the state constitution.

“”Politicians cannot legislate good family communication where it does not already exist,”” said Stephanie Grutman, Executive Director of the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “”This ballot proposal makes bad situations worse for the most vulnerable teens by forcing those who come from abusive homes or whose pregnancies are the result of incest to tell their parents about their abortion decision.””

For more than 30 years, Planned Parenthood has worked to provide, promote, and protect access to safe and comprehensive reproductive and sexuality health care counseling and services in Florida. “”Our services encourage teens to talk to their parents, but we also recognize that not all teens come from a supportive and loving family,”” Grutman said.

“”This ballot proposal misleads voters about its purpose – to take away the privacy rights of Floridians,”” said Randall Marshall, Legal Director of the ACLU of Florida. “”We are confident that, on appeal, the court will strike down this ballot proposal, just as it has struck other proposals that fail to accurately inform voters.””

The legislature introduced the ballot proposal after the Florida Supreme Court twice struck down laws requiring teens to involve their parents in their abortion decisions. Both times the court held that the laws violated the express right to privacy in the Florida Constitution.

Today’s appeal asks the court to block the ballot proposal from appearing on the November ballot, saying that it misleads voters. The challenge was dismissed earlier this week by the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit in and for Leon County, Florida.

The case is ACLU of Florida v. Hood and was appealed to the District Court of Appeal for the First District of Florida. Lawyers for the Plaintiff include, Kasdan and Louise Melling of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, Marshall and Rebecca Steele of the ACLU of Florida, Inc., and Helene Krasnoff of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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