CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Senate passed House Bill 2002 Saturday, which requires a minor’s parents to be given 48 hours’ notice before she will be permitted to legally kill her unwanted baby.
Under current West Virginia law, the child of a minor may not be murdered until 24 hours after the baby’s maternal grandparents have been notified, unless a physician feels that parental notification is not in the minor mother’s best interest. HB 2002 extends this notification period to 48 hours, and revokes the physician’s authority to waive notification. However, like most states with parental notification laws, HB 2002 includes a judicial bypass process by which a minor may petition a judge for a waiver of parental notification.
Karen Cross, coordinator with West Virginians For Life, said that minors are not mature enough to decide whether their children may live or die, and argued that parents ought to be aware when their daughters undergo surgical procedures.
“She can’t have her ears pierced without her parent’s consent and yet they won’t even know that she’s had this surgical procedure?” Cross said.
“The bill that passed, we consider to be a pro-life bill because it supports the right of parents to be involved in the abortion decisions of their own children,” said WVFL President Wanda Franz.
A Rewire article about the bill likewise labeled it “anti-choice,” but in reality HB 2002 affirms the so-called “right to choose” to kill an unwanted human, so long as proper conditions—in this case the involvement of the mother’s parents in the decision—are met.
Opponents and advocates of the bill all claimed their primary concern was the best interests of the minor women seeking abortion, but neither side mentioned the minors who would be aborted, or claimed to act in the best interest of those children.
Much of the disagreement focused on who should be allowed to waive parental notification. During a public hearing in the House of Delegates chamber, many of those who testified against the bill—including sexual abuse survivors and representatives of pro-choice organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia—argued that requiring notification could endanger victims of sexual abuse.
A WCAD statement for the hearing read: “Ideally a young woman would have the support of her family as well as her community in whatever choice she makes. However, a girl might have anti-choice parents, and although she isn’t ready to have a child, her parents will not grant her the consent needed to have an abortion even if she has been abused and may even be pregnant as a result of this abuse.”
“We have to stop ignoring the fact that girls have sex and that they need access to birth control and abortion just as adults do,” the statement continued.
Others, such as Franz, argued that secret abortions protect sexual predators. Franz explained that under existing conditions, a girl could lie to the abortionist about how she became pregnant, destroy the evidence through abortion, and be returned to the abusive situation. She believes requiring the judicial bypass process will protect girls from such circumstances, rather than leaving the waiver right up to the discretion of a physician.
In all of the debate, however, no one contended that preborn children should not be executed for the crimes of their fathers. Dana Leech of WVFL expressed compassion for sexual abuse survivors, stating “I want you to know my heart breaks for you, and I will pray for your peace.” But no one suggested that even the trauma of sexual abuse does not justify the murder of an innocent child. No one testified that babies should not be killed no matter how old their mothers are. Instead, those who claim to advocate for the rights of the preborn merely pressed for a longer window between notification and the actual killing, as well as stricter reporting requirements after the killing.
After these testimonies, the subcommittee amended the bill to include an exception that would allow a psychologist or psychiatrist to waive notification. The amendment was later removed by the State Senate Committee. The bill contains an exception for medical emergencies in addition to the judicial bypass provision.
According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, 48 of the preborn babies murdered in West Virginia last year were the children of minors, and 42 of them were killed after their grandparents were notified. In the other four cases, one young mother was emancipated, and a physician deemed the other three mature enough to make the decision without their parents’ knowledge.
Franz acknowledged that HB 2002 does not directly impact the ability to have preborn children murdered, stating “This bill does not in any way limit abortions. The girl is still able to get an abortion. If she and her parents are determined to get an abortion, they can. But it’s our experience that when there is communication between a parent and a child, it often times leads to better options than abortion.”
She told the Liberator that WVFL absolutely believes abortion should not be allowed and that the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade was wrong, but said that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the law. That being the case, she said that WVFL is not in a position to put forward legislation that attacks abortion directly, and as such has an obligation to protect women and (born) children while abortion is legal.
“We believe that it’s important for every child to be considered important… it’s important that the parents not be left out of the equation when it comes time to make this decision,” Franz said.