by Steven Ertelt
March 9, 2007
Charleston, WV (LifeNews.com) — Two bills that are pending in the West Virginia legislature look likely to not be approved this year. The bills would stop taxpayer funding of abortions and also tighten the state’s parental notification law which allows parents to know when their teenage daughter is considering an abortion.
The legislature is slated to close up shop on Saturday night and neither bill has received a hearing in the state House.
If the notification bill doesn’t get a vote, it would be the third session in a row where the Senate approved the bill but the House never took it up.
This time, the blame can go to Carrie Webster, the new chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who refused to hold a hearing on the bill.
Melissa Adkins, the director of West Virginians for Life, talked with the Beckley Register-Herald newspaper about the outcome.
“Of course, we’re disappointed,” she said. “But we’ll live with it."
Pro-life advocates thought they had a better chance of approving the bill this year when Delegate Rick Thompson, a pro-life Democrat, became the House Speaker. He favored more open debate on all topics. But Adkins said the bill may finally get moving next year.
“It’s a new team that has come in and they probably just needed a session to get adjusted to everything. We’re being told it will get its turn next year," she said.
She told the newspaper her group will try the bill in the House first next year and then go to the Senate, where it’s easier to get a bill approved.
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.
Adkins said the bill is needed because more than 500 girls have had abortions without telling their parents in the last 20 years.
“Obviously, you have a problem if you have that many girls who are obtaining abortions without notifying their parents,” Adkins said.
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.
The other bill would have prohibited the state from paying for abortions except in very rare cases.
The pro-life group tried to ban taxpayer funding of abortions years ago and got a bill through the state legislature. However, the state Supreme Court ruled 3-2 in 1993, in what is known as the "Panepinto Decision," that the law is unconstitutional.
The group has been waiting for the makeup of the state’s high court to change so it could try again.
The latest figures from the state health department show that $347,900 was spent on 798 abortions for fiscal year 2006.