Delaware Committee Rejects Parental Consent on Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 12, 2011   |   12:16PM   |   Dover, DE

With two abortion centers in Delaware closing because of massive problems and its owner masquerading as a doctor, a bill allowing parents to veto an abortion request from their daughter might be helpful.

But Delaware lawmakers on the House Health and Human Development Committee said no. They rejected on Wednesday a bill requiring girls under the age of 18 to get the consent of at least one parent before an abortion.

Current state law in Delaware makes it so at least one parent must receive notice of a girl’s intended abortion 24 hours prior to the abortion procedure, but the law is weakened by allowing grandparents or even a medical professional to receive the notice on the girl’s behalf. The law also allows a Supreme Court-mandate judicial bypass provision for cases in which a girl believes she would be subject to violence at home by informing her parents of the abortion or if the judge believes she is mature enough to make the abortion decision on her own.

House Minority Leader Greg Lavelle sponsored the bill to replace that weak law with a parental consent requirement that any girl obtain permission for an abortion, according to an AP report.

“This is all about parents being involved in medical decisions involving their minor children,” said Lavelle, a Wilmington Republican. “It works in other states, it can work here in Delaware.”

AP indicates Lavelle said the law is patterned after a Pennsylvania statute that has been upheld in court but abortion advocates claim the weak notification law is working and said the consent measure doesn’t protect girls in sensitive situations. They also did not like that the new measure would close the loophole that allows keeping parents in the dark by having an unrelated medical professional get notice instead of a girls’ parents.

Emily Knearl, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Delaware pushed against the bill in committee and told lawmakers, “You guys are here to make exceptions for people who really need you. Please don’t turn your back on those few young women who need the mental health bypass.”

AP reports Rep. Nick Manolakos, a Republican who says he supports legalized abortion, was one of the legislators to vote for the bill because he’s seen the need for it as a school administrator.

“I see the family connections continuing to weaken in our schools and in our society, and I think anything we can do to strengthen them at this time is beneficial,” he said.

The rejection of the consent measure comes after two Delaware-based abortion facilities associated with embattled abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell will likely remain closed.

James Liguori, who is representing Panzy Myrie, the other of the two Atlantic Women’s Medical Services abortion centers based in Delaware that closed in March because of problems related to Gosnell’s Philadelphia abortion business, made the information available late today. He indicated the Wilmington, Delaware abortion center has been put up for sale and the owner and operator of the abortion businesses wants “to move on.”

“They don’t want to start over,” he said.

The information came to light, according to a Courier Post newspaper report, on the same day state regulators were planning to hold hearings on accusations that Myrie had improperly represented herself as a licensed physician in online advertisements for the abortion business even though she does not hold a valid medical license in Delaware. Prosecutors had hoped the Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline would issue a ruling against the abortion facility owner requesting that she stop masquerading as a valid abortion practitioner.

However, both sides reached a weekend agreement and the hearing was called off.

Although details of the agreement were not made public, the newspaper indicated Liguori said the order “amicably resolves the concern that the medical practices board had.”

The two Delaware abortion centers run under the Atlantic name came under scrutiny because Gosnell had worked at them one day a week in addition to operating the Philadelphia abortion business that was shut down when inspectors found horrific conditions and learned he had engaged in hundreds of infanticides whereby he would begin an “abortion” by purposefully inducing an early birth of an unborn child and jabbing the baby in the spinal cord with scissors in an attempt to “snip” the spinal cord. Gosnell faces several charges related to the infanticides and one murder charge related to a woman who died in a failed abortion at his center.

Meanwhile, the Delaware centers presented concerns for state officials who launched investigations into them. They were sufficient to have state officials issue emergency suspensions of the medical licenses of the abortion practitioners who worked there — Albert Dworkin and Arturo Apolinario — and the Dover and Wilmington centers have been closed. If found guilty of any violations, the abortion business could be fined up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $50,000 for subsequent offenses the newspaper indicated today.