West Virginia Legislators Change Bill on Abortion-Parental Notification
by Steven Ertelt
February 23, 2007
Charleston, WV (LifeNews.com) — State legislators changed a bill meant to tighten the state’s parental notification law, allowing parents to know when their teenage daughter is considering an abortion. The measure originally required abortion practitioners to provide reports about the abortions done on minors.
The bill was meant to require abortion practitioners to document the reasons for doing an abortion on a teen without parental involvement.
It would come into play when abortions are done in sexual abuse cases and asks that a tissue sample be sent to state police to assist them in catching the perpetrator.
Legislators changed the bill on Friday but a statewide pro-life group says the bill is still acceptable.
West Virginia’s current notification law allows either the abortion practitioner or a judge to issued a waiver in emergency cases or when a teenager is a victim of rape or incest saying the abortion can go ahead without parental involvement.
The revised bill takes the abortion practitioner out of the equation and leaves judges to make those waiver decisions.
“It’s essentially the same bill,” Melissa Adkins, a lobbyist for West Virginians for Life, told the Charleston Gazette.
Adkins said the group preferred the original bill but her group still endorses what the Judiciary Committee finally approved.
“Part of the legislative process is give and take,” she told the newspaper.
Adkins said the bill improved some because it prevents the "loophole" of abortion practitioners deciding when parents should be notified.
The committee also amended the bill to lower the penalties for noncompliance from a year in prison to just 30 days.
According to the newspaper, the waivers haven’t been issued as frequently as in other states like Michigan and Florida that are looking at tightening their notification laws to stop abusing the waiver provisions.
In 2005, there were just 14 waivers issued and 11 of those came from local judges and three came from the abortion practitioner.
Margaret Chapman, who heads the state pro-abortion group West Virginia Free, claims 85 percent of teenagers contemplating an abortion ultimately tell their parents but Adkins doubts that figure because state law doesn’t require parents to show identification proving they are the parents of the minor girl.
Adkins said that the bill fixes that by making identification mandatory.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor and the chamber must approve it by Wednesday to meet it’s deadline for approving bills.
The Senate is expected to approve it, but pro-life advocates are concerned it could be defeated in the House. The Senate approved the bill last year but it died in the House.
A key concern in the House is that Carrie Webster, the new chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is pro-abortion and opposes the bill. She told the newspaper she plans to give the bill a fair hearing.
Chapman says her organization is hoping the House kills the measure.