CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Senate approved a bill requiring parental notification for unemancipated minors having an abortion. The House later concurred with the changes, sending the bill to the governor.
The Senate approved an amendment worked out in committee, so it differs significantly from the version first approved in the House.
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.
In the House this afternoon, Delegate Dave Pethtel, D-Wetzel, said “This bill is significantly different from the bill that passed the House 98-0.” Democrat Barbara Fleischauer, who was on the subcommittee that reached the earlier compromise, also argued the bill had changed too much.
The bill and its changes overwhelmingly passed the House, though.
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. Others said teens will be forced to get an abortion out of state and that families will get tied up in unnecessary litigation.
Before the concurring vote in the House, Delegate Amy Summers said the Legislature should revisit those issues next year.
Today in the Senate, Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, offered an amendment that he said would bring the bill back toward what the House originally passed. He said his amendment would still be restrictive but it would keep troubled girls from having to go before a judge.
Palumbo’s amendment was defeated. Senators Patricia Rucker and Robert Karnes, both Republicans, spoke against it.
Senator Mike Romano, D-Harrison, spoke out against the overall changes to the bill. He said the unanimous vote in the House was a good reason not to change the bill from what passed over.
“This bill came to us with the agreement of all stakeholders in the House,” Romano said. “It came over as an agreed bill.”