The West Virginia House unanimously passed a bill Tuesday to update state parental notification requirements before a minor has an abortion.
Current state law requires abortion clinics to notify the parent or guardian of a girl under 18 at least 24 hours before she has the abortion. However, the law currently allows a doctor or judge to wave the requirement.
The new bill would update the law by limiting those who can wave the parental notification requirement to psychiatrists, licensed psychologists and judges, according to the Associated Press.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports legislators also included an amendment to change the penalties for abortionists and others who violate the law. Under current law, violators are subject to criminal penalties. The bill would change this to allow state licensing boards to discipline physicians, according to the report.
Lawmakers said wavers of the parental notification requirement were used four times in 2015 for girls under 18.
The legislation now moves to the state Senate for consideration.
Parental notification and parental consent laws have strong public support; but some states still do not have any requirements for parental involvement in underage girls’ abortions. Currently, 37 states have some type of parental involvement law in a minor’s abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
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Planned Parenthood, NARAL and other abortion advocacy groups often lobby against parental involvement laws. They believe that underage girls should be able to abort their unborn babies in a dangerous surgical or drug-induced abortion procedure without their parents’ knowledge or consent. In 2013, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in Montana to overturn its parental involvement requirements.
A 2011 study, “Analyzing the Effect of Anti-Abortion U.S. State Legislation in the Post-Casey Era,” by Michael New, Ph.D., found that parental involvement laws help to reduce abortions. He found that parental involvement laws reduce in-state abortion rates for minors by approximately 15 percent.