by Steven Ertelt
January 5, 2007
Boise, ID (LifeNews.com) — State lawmakers in Idaho are probably not going to tackle another bill requiring abortion practitioners to get permission from the parents of a teenager before an abortion can be done on her. They say the legislature is confronting too many other issues to deal with writing a new bill that would pass constitutional muster.
House Speaker Lawerence Denney, a Republican, made the assessment during a legislative forum organized by the Associated Press.
"Before a new parental consent bill comes forward, I think that we do need to have a consensus on the language," Denney said. "In trying to keep the session short, it’s not good to write legislation in committee."
Also making it difficult to find enough time to craft and vote on a bill is the fact that legislators are hurrying to finish their work in advance of an April renovation protect inside the state capitol.
The Idaho legislature has approved several different versions of a parental consent law and it has been stuck down in courts each time as unconstitutional.
After the latest attempt, a federal judge ruled in April that the state would have to pay more than $380,000 in attorney fees to pro-abortion lawyers who represented Planned Parenthood in its challenge to the law.
That’s made lawmakers more cautious in approving a new version.
"Every time, we spend another couple hundred thousand dollars in defense of an unconstitutional law," Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett, a Democrat, complained to AP.
He said a parental consent abortion bill should only be approved if it’s determined it can get court approval.
Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis to AP he was one legislator who wants the state to work on a revised version of the bill in order to reduce abortions and protect both teenagers and the parental rights of parents.
"I actually hope we do see a meaningful, positive, constitutionally sound parental consent bill," Davis said. "If they can meet that standard, I would be pleased to vote to print it and pleased to vote to pass it, and I hope that’s what we do this year."
In 2001, U.S. District Judge Mikel Williams upheld the law be he ruled the judicial bypass provision in the law, required to allow teens in abusive homes to get around the requirement, was unconstitutional.
The provision required that the teen could only get the bypass from a judge in a minor’s home district or the county where the abortion would take place. Pro-life lawmakers wanted that provision to prevent abortion businesses from "judge shopping" and taking bypass cases only to pro-abortion judges who would routinely approve them.
Williams also ruled against a requirement that parents be notified about the abortion within 24 hours if the bypass provision was used.
On appeal, a three judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in June 2004 that the entire law is unconstitutional.
Idaho lawmakers eventually approved a second parental consent law, which Planned Parenthood of Idaho and the ACLU have taken to court arguing the two laws are too similar. U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill in July 2005 issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of that law.
Rep. Bill Sali introduced a new parental consent law in 2006 but it failed to gain traction.