Colorado Parental Notification Law Goes Into Effect

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 4, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Colorado Parental Notification Law Goes Into Effect

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
November 4, 2003

Denver, CO ( — As of Sunday, abortion practitioners in Colorado must notify the parents of a minor who comes to them for an abortion.

The new law is a second attempt at a parental notification law. In 1998 voters passed an initiative to get a parental notification law on the books, but it was struck down by a federal court as unconstitutional.

The new law “fixed” two of the reasons it was ruled unconstitutional, including allowing for judicial bypass and providing a “medical emergency” provision.

Pro-life advocates are generally pleased with the new law and hope it will reduce teen abortions as similar laws have in other states.

“We worked very hard on this legislation,” Pat Miller, President of Citizens for Responsible Government, told “The abortion rate has gone down in the states where this [type of] legislation has been established.”

“All sorts of relatively routine and trivial medical procedures already require the parents to be aware of what their minor son or daughter is doing,” said State Senate President John Andrews (R-Centennial). “This is about whether a baby has a chance to be brought into the world. Certainly its something that Mom and Dad deserve to be aware of.”

Abortion advocates have been vocal in their opposition of the law.

Warren Hern, director of the Boulder Abortion Clinic and one of the few late-term abortionists in the country, criticized the law. He claims 95% of teens who get abortions from him notify their parents already, and those that don’t cannot because they would face abuse in a dysfunctional family.

But pro-life groups say abortion is not the answer for a teen in an abusive situation.

“The law requires that such abuse be reported,” said Tom Longua, former president of Colorado Right to Life. “Without the law, the abuse will continue without being reported.”

The provision, signed into law in June, does not allow for criminal charges against an abortion practitioner who performs an abortion on a minor under the age of 18, but it does allow for them to be held liable in a civil suit.

A San Diego attorney has recently filed charges against Planned Parenthood for allegedly treating girls as young as 5 years old without notifying the authorities about sexual or physical abuse that was occurring.

Pro-abortion groups are already working to circumvent the law by aiding minors to obtain a judicial bypass, with the help of attorneys that share their views. This practice is currently used in other states where such laws are also in effect.

“[They] pretend that it would be difficult for a teenager to navigate the court system, but that’s nonsense,” said Longua. “They have their own lawyers on call for such situations. In fact, in states where there is such a law with a bypass, they even advertise in the phone book, ‘Help with judicial bypass’ in Omaha, NE.”

Removing this loophole, as well as allowing for criminal charges for violating the law, will be attempted in later legislative sessions, said Longua.

Longua told of the enormous effort that went into passing the parental notification law.

Rep. Ted Harvey (R-Douglas County) drafted and pushed the legislation through both houses of the Colorado Legislature between April 14 and May 7, 2003. In fact, the legislation passed through 7 steps on the last day of the legislative session, including two committees and votes in both houses.

Related web sites:
Colorado Right to Life –