West Virginia lawmakers are reconsidering limits on the legal requirement to notify parents of an underage daughter's abortion.
Under the current law, a physician other than the doctor performing the procedure can waive the requirement by finding it's not in her best interest. Under the proposed amendment, a juvenile or her doctor would have to get a court waiver to keep from notifying parents.
At a hearing Monday, the House Judiciary Committee heard advocates of current law say doctor waivers were used only four times in 2015, when 48 minors in West Virginia had abortions. The American Civil Liberties Union, social workers and former victims said physician waivers are needed especially to protect girls raped in abusive and violent households - and when having to go to court could be traumatic.
"Young women should not be pawns in a political game," said Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of West Virginia Free, which advocates for reproductive rights. "It's dangerous."
At the hearing, 30 people argued against the proposed change. Eight people supported it.
Anti-abortion advocates said secret abortions have lifelong ramifications and don't protect abused girls.
Karen Cross, political liaison for West Virginians for Life, said she represents 125,000 people statewide supporting the change who consider the current statute as "an abortionists' consent law."
She said 30 states have similar laws, most in effect for decades.
The Judiciary Committee planned to consider the bill later Monday. The House Health and Human Resources Committee approved it last week.
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