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Virginia parental-notice law allowed to stand by high court


WASHINGTON (BP)–A Virginia measure requiring notification of a parent before an unmarried minor girl undergoes an abortion remains law because the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case.
The high court’s decision not to accept the appeal means a unanimous decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals stands. The 1997 law was upheld by the appeals court last year.
“This has always been an issue where it would be very difficult for the Supreme Court to back up the abortion industry,” said Will Dodson, director of public policy for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “The issue is not one of whether parents must consent to the abortion, but simply one of whether the parents should be notified an invasive medical procedure is going to be performed upon their minor child. That is the very least that parents should expect.”
Unlike some other states’ laws, the Virginia measure only requires one parent to be notified. It also provides exceptions for girls who have been abused, for girls who convince a judge they are mature enough to make the decision and for girls, who in a doctor’s assessment, risk “substantial physical injury,” according to a report in The Washington Post.
The Virginia law is one of 22 state statutes in effect that provide parents with legitimate involvement, according to the National Right to Life Committee. Another nine are either ineffective or give abortion doctors the latitude to disregard the laws, NRLC said.
Of the 22 state laws, according to NRLC:
— Six provide for one-parent notification, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Virginia;
— One for two-parent notice, Minnesota;
— Thirteen for one-parent consent, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Wyoming;
— Two for two-parent consent, Mississippi and North Dakota.
Abortion and pregnancy rates are decreasing in states with such laws, even though they contain judicial bypass provisions required by the Supreme Court, a NRLC staff member said.
Laws in 10 states are not in full effect because their enforcement has been blocked by courts, according to NRLC.
“We must keep up our efforts to impress upon our judicial system that the sanctity of human life and the sanctity of family are the only valid rights involved,” the ERLC’s Dodson said. “The right to an abortion is not a valid right.
“The legal ability of abortion providers to be involved in such a delicate situation when parents are denied such ability is an outrageous shift of responsibility from those who care most about their children to those who have a vested financial interest in the outcome of the process.”
Abortion rights advocates, however, are making progress in some states, The New York Times reported in early December. Using state Equal Rights Amendments and constitutions they say contain more expansive privacy rights, abortion right groups have gained recent court victories and have filed suits in other states seeking government funding for abortions.
In late November, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously the state’s ERA requires the government to use Medicaid funding to pay for abortions for poor women, according to The Times. The decision brings to 16 the number of states using state Medicaid funds to pay for abortions, The Times reported.