The debate over a proposed law requiring parents to be notified of an abortion for any girl under 18 reached the Senate Law and Justice Committee on Tuesday.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver) told the committee the bill is common sense. He argued if parental notification is required before minors go on a school field trip or get a driver’s license, it should also be mandatory before abortions.
“This bill is not trying to stop abortions. What it is, is notifying parents of their child’s activities before they engage in them,” he said. “For some reason in Washington state, we insist on elevating this particular surgery to a sacred level that can be done not only without the parents authorization, but without even notifying the parents of the situation.”
Opponents of Senate Bill 5156 say it can be dangerous for some teens to notify their parents and could limit health options for minors.
“Most of teens I see if they come in with unintended pregnancies actually involve their parents,” said Yolanda Evans, a pediatrician from Seattle. “It’s not those teens I worry about. It’s about the more vulnerable teens who do not have trusted adults in their lives.”
The legislation is receiving a hearing for the first time in years after a shakeup in the Senate left a Republican-controlled majority coalition in control of key committees.
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D-Medina) said he was happy to see the issue get a committee hearing, despite his personal opposition to the bill.
“I think we need to have that open discussion. In our coalition, we have people on both sides of this issue and what you haven’t seen in Olympia is any debate on parental notification. That bill hasn’t been heard in 10 years,” he said.
Senate Law & Justice Committee chair, Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley), has signed on to the bill. It is unclear if the legislation will get a full debate and floor vote in the Senate.