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Quite a lot of 'Ayes' on abortion control

Should parents be notified if their daughters have an abortion? An Olympia hearing drew a passel of opinions.
Lawmakers continue to huddle behind closed doors at the capitol.

Lawmakers continue to huddle behind closed doors at the capitol. MathTeacherGuy/Flickr

Only two teenage girls testified Wednesday about a bill affecting pregnant teenage girls. Janet Kruschke, 16, and Mary Hoppes 17, drove to Olympia from Tri-City Prep, a religious high school in Pasco, to throw their support behind a bill that would require parents to be notified if their teen daughter seeks an abortion.

"It makes no sense that I could get an abortion, a medical process, when I need my parents' permission to get my ears pierced," Hoppes said.

The hearing dealt specifically with SB 5156, a bill by Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, that would require a parent be notified 48 hours prior to a girl younger than 18  receiving an abortion. Under the bill, a teen girl could circumvent the requirement by getting a court waiver.

"This is a parental rights bill. This bill is not trying to stop abortions. ...  It's a common sense right that every parent expects," Benton said. He added that 39 other states already have similar laws.

However, the bill faces huge hurdles. Assuming the 24-member Democratic Senate minority bloc remains intact against the bill, Sen.Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and leader of the 23-Republican-two-Democrat majority alliance  also opposes it. That would likely give opponents a 25-vote majority. But Tom added: " Lets have debate. I think that debate is good."

Gov.Jay Inslee — who could veto the bill — also opposes it,citing privacy concerns for teen girls. "The notification bill goes back to ideological debates [already hashed out] in the state of Washington," Inslee said. Meanwhile, the bill won't likely survive a Democrat-controlled House if it gets through the Senate

Twenty-seven of the roughly 100 people at the hearing voted for Benton's bill and 19 against (all women). Of those who testified, a few pro-choice women supported the bill. Mothers were on both sides as were women who had had abortions. Testimony by doctors was split.

The bill's supporters focused on parents needing to know about their daughters facing wrenching, emotional decisions. "Who better to help a young teen than their parents?" asked Dorothy Redmann of Richland.

"The current law assumes that parents are a danger to a child in time of crisis," argued Joseph Backholm, director of the Family Institute of Washington. "That is an unreasonable public policy."

Opponents, for their part, contended that many of these same parents are among the last people a pregnant teen should have to face in a time of emotional crisis. Pregnant teens are not guaranteed supportive families, and incest complicates some situations.

"Forcing teens into having conversations they're unable to have or don't want to jeopardizes their safety," argued Jennifer Segadelli, a Seattle attorney.

"The person I feared the most was my mother," testified Lisa Davidson of Seattle.

Dr. Sarah Prager of Seattle agreed. "The younger the patient is, the more likely she is to involve a parent. Unfortunately, not all adolescents have mature and loving parents." Prager shared her experience with one pregnant teen who had an abortion."Her mother called her a baby killer and she attempted suicide."

John Stang covers state government for Crosscut. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Feb 7, 5:05 p.m. Inappropriate

What supporters apparently fail to realize is that the government can't force a good, safe relationship between parent and teen. Ideally a pregnant teen would feel able to tell her parents and reach out for support, and hopefully in a lot of cases, that does happen, and the teen benefits. But for the ones who can't reach out, all this does is put them in an unsafe situation.

If you're a parent and you need a law to reassure you that your daughter would come to you in this situation, I strongly suggest you work on your relationship with your kid instead of enacting laws that will make other teen girls unsafe. I am a woman with a daughter, and I absolutely do not support this bill.

eilloh

Posted Thu, Feb 7, 8:54 p.m. Inappropriate

"If you're a parent and you need a law to reassure you that your daughter would come to you in this situation, I strongly suggest you work on your relationship with your kid instead of enacting laws that will make other teen girls unsafe."

This assumes that even girls with good families will make a perfectly rational decision when faced with something like this.

Ryan

Posted Thu, Feb 7, 10:38 p.m. Inappropriate

I know many adults of both genders who regularly make irrational decisions -- I understand your concern, but as a parent I've met too many kids who cannot talk with their parents about all kinds of personal issues. I worry when we make it harder for young women to seek medical help.

sandik

Posted Fri, Feb 8, 7:37 p.m. Inappropriate

"This assumes that even girls with good families will make a perfectly rational decision when faced with something like this."

And your comment assumes that a pregnant young woman telling her parents that she's pregnant is always a "perfectly rational decision".

What about all the times that it isn't? What do we do for those girls?

We don't care, right? As long as we feel comforted knowing that our daughter would be forced into talking to us about their pregnancy, we don't care what happens to the other young women for whom a forced admission of pregnancy could cause deep and lasting physical and/or emotional harm.

If you're going to support this, then it's irresponsible to avoid looking at its negative ramifications, or to pretend there aren't any.

eilloh

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