Georgia Leg. Set to Consider Strengthening Parental Notification Abortion Law
by Paul Nowak
March 4, 2004
Atlanta, GA (LifeNews.com) — The Georgia state House Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing as early as next week on a bill to tighten a glaring loophole in Georgia’s parental notification law.
Rep. Tommy Smith (D-Nicholls) introduced HB 1597, identical to SB 240 that passed the Senate in February, because he recognized the need to protect minors in his state.
“The current law is open to mismanagement,” Rep. Smith told LifeNews.com. “This bill tightens up the current law, and does what the old law intended.”
Rep. Smith’s bill would require parents to show identification when they are notified about their daughter’s abortion. Currently, no such identification is needed, so other adults – including boyfriends or abusers – could sign the notification in the parent’s stead.
“A loophole is circumventing the entire purpose of the law by allowing a person other than the parent or guardian to stand ‘in loco parentis (in place of a parent), explained Pat Chivers, Director of Government Relations for Georgia Right to Life. “The Georgia Legislature must fulfill the goals of the Georgia Parental Notification Act and remove the ‘in loco parentis’ language.”
The Supreme Court mandates a judicial bypass provision in parental involvement laws in cases where parents are guardians are abusing teens. Pro-life groups argue that teens need help, not abortions, in such situations.
Still, the bill meets the Supreme Court’s regulations, and in addition to allowing for a judicial waiver, also allows parents to be notified by phone or mail if necessary.
“This kind of law seems to work well in other states,” said Rep. Smith. “We feel good about it from a constitutional standpoint.”
Sen. Regina Thomas (D-Savannah) criticized the matching Senate bill that passed 42-13 on February 12, calling it "propaganda."
"It’s ridiculous; we need to be about the people’s business and not sitting here telling people what to do and how to do it or who to do it with," AP reports Thomas saying.
Referring to a notice from Georgia Right to Life that the vote would be included on a legislative scorecard sent to its members, Thomas also said: "I don’t care about a scorecard, and I don’t even care if I get re-elected. Stop trying to dictate people’s lives."
Similar pro-life laws in other states have been successful in reducing the number of teenage abortions