CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A parental notification bill, amended back to its original version, will be on second reading in the state Senate Friday.
The bill, HB 2002, requires parental notification of abortions performed on unemancipated minors.
Current state law requires a minor to give a 24-hour notice to a parent or legal guardian, but that requirement can be bypassed by a doctor’s waiver or if she goes to court and obtains a waiver. The original version of the bill would eliminate the doctor’s waiver and keep the judicial waiver.
A state House of Delegates subcommittee decided to amend the bill so that psychiatrists and psychologists would be allowed to waive the notification, instead of a physician, if the psychiatrist or psychologist finds that the minor is mature enough to make the abortion decision.
The bill overwhelmingly passed the House 98-0. The Senate has since changed the amended version and will now consider it in its original form.
Karen Cross with the pro-life group West Virginians for Life supports the original bill. She was against the amended version because she said adding the psychiatrists and psychologists to the waiver notification takes away from a parent’s right to know about the abortion.
“It was worse than the bill we have in place now. I’m not going to have my name and West Virginians for Life associated that would actually make it worse for our minor children,” Cross said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” “We need to protect our daughters in West Virginia and we intend to do that.”
Supporters say a young girl is not mature enough to make the abortion decision and that a parent should know about the procedure. Opponents say the bill would take away protections for girls who need it the most.
Earlier this legislative session, victims of sexual assault spoke out against the bill during a public hearing in the House. Some said they were assaulted and had no choice but to consider an abortion, all while they had parents who were mentally unstable to support their abortion decision. Others said teens will be forced to get an abortion out of state and that families will get tied up in unnecessary litigation.
But Cross said a parent should still know about the decision.
“This is an invasive medical procedure and this child doesn’t necessarily know the full ramifications of the decision she’s making,” she said.
A sexual assault victim, Cross said, should go before a judge, so the abuse can stop.
“We’re not helping her by helping her get a secret abortion and going back into the abuse. Going before a judge would actually — he’s a mandatory reporter in this state — he’s got to get her help,” she said.
The bill still needs to pass the Senate before being sent back to the House for changes to be considered.
Carrie Hodousek contributed to this story.