House votes to require notification of both parents when minors seek an abortion

The Missouri House has voted to require the notification of both parents when a minor in Missouri seeks to have an abortion.

Representative Rocky Miller (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The House voted 113-37 on Monday to pass House Bill 1383.  It would require that a parent or guardian giving consent for a minor to have an abortion notify any other custodial parent or guardian in writing before the minor gives her consent.  It would not apply in an emergency or for custodial parents or guardians that have been found guilty of certain crimes, are listed on the sex offender registry, are the subject of an order of protection, have had parental rights terminated, or for whom the whereabouts are not known.

Missouri law now requires that a minor seeking an abortion and one parent or guardian of that minor give written consent before the procedure can be performed.

HB 1383 is sponsored by Representative Rocky Miller (R-Lake Ozark).

“It just comes down to common sense,” said Miller.  “We just need to be able to notify the other parent if the other parent is a good parent.  In addition this bill has the added benefit of notifying a good parent if the other parent … happens to not be a good parent.”

The bill was opposed by many Democrats including Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis), who argue that teens could be put in danger because the parents it would require them to notify could be abusive.

“This bill puts pregnant girls in grave danger of abuse from their abusers, from their traffickers, from their incestuous fathers, step-fathers, their custodial male parent, and yet we hear on this floor with previous bills that each one of you is against sex trafficking and child abuse … and yet each one of you knows exactly what dangers our teens face.  Each one of you women knows exactly how any angry parent could react, and each one of you women knows exactly why teens may only notify, may only talk to one parent – that parent that they trust for very good reason,” said Newman.

Representative Crystal Quade (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) said the bill could force teens to contact parents they don’t want to contact.

“What worries me about this bill are the young women who, as we’ve discussed, are abused by their parents, potentially, and don’t have the guts, don’t want to, don’t have the financial means, it’s purely not their path of coping, to go to the courts to get a piece of paper that says they don’t have to reach out to their potential abuser,” said Quade.  “As someone who doesn’t speak to their biological father I understand what it means to reestablish connections when you don’t want to, and if we as a legislative body are forcing young women to reestablish connections because they don’t want to go to court for whatever reason, it’s shameful.”

Newman said, “every major credible medical organization strongly opposes this bill.”

“They strongly oppose the idea of minors who request confidential services … they strongly oppose any type of intervention, any type of parental consent,” said Newman.

Miller disputed that argument, saying the American Medical Association’s position supports his proposal.

“’Physicians should strongly encourage minors to discuss their pregnancy with their parents.  Physicians should explain how parental involvement can be helpful and that parents are generally understanding and supportive.’  That is straight from the American Medical Association, so anybody that says differently is lying and it’s upsetting,” said Miller.  “I haven’t had any, any, any hard proof to me that there’s a problem with notifying a good parent.”

Miller argued that the majority of Americans believe in parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion.

“You’re worrying about these bad things that could happen but there’s an overwhelming amount of good that does happen when you discuss these things,” said Miller.  “You must have parental involvement when it’s involving a child like this.”

HB 1383 goes to the Senate, where similar legislation has been approved by committees in recent years but has not been passed in that chamber.