Sen. Padden address the March for Life demonstration on the steps of the Capitol.
OLYMPIA — A proposed law requiring parents to be notified of an abortion for any woman under 18 will get a hearing in a Senate committee this year, and possibly a full debate and floor vote.
State Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, told a crowd of more than 2,000 anti-abortion activists Tuesday that the first parental notification bill in many years will definitely get a Senate hearing in the next few weeks.
“You have to keep up the fight,” he told demonstrators at the annual March for Life, who filled the steps of the Capitol and the steps of the Temple of Justice across the flag plaza. . .
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Padden is a co-sponsor of the bill and chairman of the Law and Justice Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill, so a hearing is a sure thing. The committee's membership also includes other strong abortion opponents like Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, who told the cheering crowd parental notification for a medical procedure was logical. Minors can't get tattoos in Washington, even with their parents' permission, she said.
Last week, Republican leaders of the House and Senate criticized Gov. Jay Inslee's call for passage of the Reproductive Parity Act, which would require all insurance plans that cover live births to also cover abortions. At the time, they said they thought the Legislature should focus on the budget, rather than on “politically divisive issues.”
“Social issues right now are not as important as getting people back to work,” House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis said.
The parental notification bill involves the same politically divisive issue as the Reproductive Parity Act, albeit from the opposite side of the controversy. But Padden said it also involves the issue of parents' rights, and that while the budget will continue to be the Legislature's primary focus, but it will have time to tackle other issues before the deadline for getting bills not related to the budget out of committee.
Sen. Rodney Tom, the Medina Democrat who heads the coalition majority, has said “it's up to the committee chairmen” to decide what bills to hear, Padden added. Once out of the Law and Justice Committee, it would go to the floor if it gets the nod from the Senate Rules Committee, which is has many Republicans opposed to abortion, although Tom supports abortion rights and has said the coalition “won't turn back the clock on social issues.”
The House has a similar parental notification bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea, another Spokane Valley Republican, as well as a bill that would declare that “the right to life begins at the moment the individual comes into being.” But with a strong Democratic majority in charge of that chamber, Padden said “I can't imagine they'll get a hearing.”
Shea told demonstrators they must be ready to stand up against abortion. “Life is the foundation of freedom,” he said.