Parental Notification Without Safeguards Endangers Our Daughters
West Virginia has a strong parental involvement statute. A minor must currently inform her parent or guardian 24 hours before the procedure and in our state, 92% do so. The WV Office of Vital Statistics shows that only 4 young women could not inform their parents in 2015. What we are doing in WV is working and we should be a model for other states. While the number is small, these 4 young women needed a real, compassionate safeguard to obtain care.
At its introduction, WV FREE along with the West Virginia State Medical Association, the West Virginia section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACLU-WV, Planned Parenthood, the WV Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposed the bill because of its limitations to help young women in need who are faced with threatening challenges to notify a parent or guardian.
After a Public Hearing with many passionate and brave stories shared on sexual abuse and assault, a Subcommittee was created and thankfully, a compromise on the bill was developed. The version of HB 2002 that came out of Judiciary is actually an improvement on our current statute, as it removes penalties for physicians, while still allowing the option of a medical professional (through a psychiatrist or licensed psychologist) to issue a waiver in addition to a judge.
While the women’s health community, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other health organizations remain opposed to the concept of legislative mandates for parental involvement, this attempt of a compromise in West Virginia is heartening and the nonpartisan support to strengthen existing legislation is something we can all support.
Please keep in mind our most vulnerable as you consider this bill and avoid amendments that would take this bill back to its harmful introduced version or anything similar. Safeguards are important. Keep our daughters in West Virginia safe and healthy.
- Don’t allow the less fortunate to be abandoned: Almost all West Virginia teens involve their parents when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. These laws abandon the handful of girls who cannot because they come from homes where problems like physical violence, emotional abuse, or incest are prevalent.
- Nothing is more important than our daughters’ safety: While parents want to know what is happening with their teen, virtually all parents agree: even if their daughter doesn’t come to them about an unintended pregnancy, the most important thing is that she has access to counseling and safe, professional medical care. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, legislation like this “increase the risk of harm to the adolescent” and do not support the safety of our daughters.
- Prevention and strong families are the real solutions: The real way to prevent teen pregnancy and abortion is with strong, caring families as well as comprehensive sex education, abstinence, counseling, and birth control.
- You can’t legislate good family communication: Parents rightly want to be involved in their teenaged daughters’ lives, but good family communication can’t be imposed by the government. It has to begin long before a teen faces an unplanned pregnancy, and that means talking to our kids about reasonable, appropriate sexual behavior from the time they are young.
- Women need access to safe abortion care: We only have one abortion provider in the state of West Virginia. This legislation contains extreme civil and criminal penalties for clinics and doctors. If the site is closed down for 30 days, that would force women to make costly trips out of state to get necessary and sometimes lifesaving health care.