Groups Sue to Stop Florida Abortion Vote

The ACLU (search) and Planned Parenthood (search) sued Monday to block a Florida ballot measure that would pave the way for a law requiring parents to be told when their minor daughters seek abortions (search).

The lawsuit argues that the ballot summary for the proposed constitutional amendment (search) is misleading - leading voters to think they're preserving rights when, in fact, the measure takes them away.

State lawmakers voted this spring to put the proposed constitutional change before voters. The ballot summary says state lawmakers "shall not limit or deny the privacy rights guaranteed to minors" under the U.S. Constitution.

But the summary doesn't explain that the state constitution gives Floridians greater privacy rights than the federal Constitution and that the proposed change would limit those state privacy rights for girls under the age of 18, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and several Planned Parenthood chapters.

The measure was designed to allow state lawmakers to pass a law requiring that parents be told when their minor daughters seek abortions.

Lawmakers who want to pass such a law have to change the constitution first because last summer the state Supreme Court ruled that a 1999 parental notice law (search) violated the state constitution's privacy provision.

"I think what the Legislature is doing ... is to jeopardize the health and the safety and sometimes the lives of young women on the altar of anti-abortion politics," ACLU Executive Director Howard Simon told reporters Monday.

Calls to the office of House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, who made the ballot measure a top priority, and Secretary of State Glenda Hood, Florida's top elections official and the named defendant, weren't immediately returned.

Byrd, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, and other supporters have argued that the measure is needed to restore the rights of parents to be involved in their children's lives.

Opponents say a parental notice law will interject the government into the most intimate family relationships and could endanger girls who are afraid to tell their parents they are pregnant - including girls who are the victims of incest.