The Washington Senate on Monday night narrowly approved a requirement that parents be notified before a minor can get an abortion - including a new twist that the boy’s family also be notified.
The 27-21 vote sent the bill to the Republican-controlled House and set up an almost certain veto by Democratic Gov. Gary Locke. The governor, a strong defender of abortion rights, doesn’t like the new bill any better than another notification bill he has threatened to veto, said Locke lobbyist Marty Brown.
Sponsors said they will send the measure to the November ballot if Locke vetoes it and they can’t muster enough votes to override.
The House, meanwhile, was nearing a vote on a ban on the late-term procedure that critics call “partial-birth” abortion. Brown said Rep. Phil Dyer, R-Issaquah, and other lawmakers have come up with language that likely would meet Locke’s approval.
Scrapping a long and detailed bill that came out of committee, the House plan would simply make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion on a viable fetus, except to save the life or health of the mother. That simply restates the state’s current abortion law, Brown said.
The two bills are among the highest priorities this session for social conservatives, including the newly formed Conservative Caucus.
Before passing the notification bill, the Senate stripped out all references to a requirement for advance parental consent, leaving only a reference to notification, a requirement 11 other states have adopted.
“It is the only intrusive medical procedure that is allowed to be performed on a minor where the parent is not required to be notified … and parents are financially liable,” said the prime sponsor, Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver.
If kids are truant or check into a chemical dependency program or want to have any kind of medical treatment, state law requires the parents to be notified first, he said.
Democratic critics said that in most cases, the minor does notify her parents, but that in the remaining cases, there’s probably a good reason why they don’t.
“You hear some say ‘I’d rather die than tell’ … and some of those kids do die,” said Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park. “You can’t force kids to have a good relationship with their folks.”
Sen. Julia Patterson, D-Seatac, succeeded in tacking on an amendment to require that the boy’s parents also be notified. She and several others used the old phrase about “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
Republicans tried in vain to keep the amendment off, saying it would be a hardship for the girl and that in some cases, it’s not clear who the father is. They said it might keep abortions from occurring. But Democrats refused to accept that logic and, after picking up a few GOP votes, approved the amendment.