Chesterton Tribune



Indiana panel amends abortion bill on parental notification

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- A proposal that would have required pregnant minors seeking permission from a judge to have an abortion to at least attempt to notify their parents first was heavily amended Tuesday to instead give a judge discretion in deciding whether parents should be notified.

Indiana requires minors to have parental consent for an abortion, but allows minors unable or unwilling to involve a parent or guardian to ask a judge for permission for the procedure without parental notification. Republican Sen. Erin Houchin’s measure, which would have been the first law of its kind, would have drastically altered that legal option by mandating parents be served legal notice and provided a chance to object to the abortion in court.

Many opponents argued the bill would be found unconstitutional if enacted because it removed the confidentiality component of the judicial bypass procedure.

An amendment approved by a House panel Tuesday removed that provision, replacing it with language requiring a judge to determine whether parental notification before the abortion is in the child’s best interest. If the judge decides parents should know, they would be notified before their child’s abortion procedure but after the child was granted the waiver for an abortion. The bill no longer requires parents have a chance to present their opposition to the abortion in a judicial hearing.

“The parents will eventually have to deal with the aftermath, whether it’s physical and medical, whether it’s emotional support,” Republican Rep. Peggy Mayfield, the House sponsor of the bill, told the Associated Press. “It doesn’t leave them in the dark about what’s going on with (their) daughter.”

Even with the changes, the bill could have constitutional problems, said Ken Falk of the ACLU of Indiana.

“Imposing this additional hurdle on a young person facing an unfamiliar, scary, time-constrained proceeding seems to be very close to the undue burden the Supreme Court says cannot be placed on a woman getting an abortion,” Falk said.

The Supreme Court has ruled the bypass procedure must be done very quickly, he said, but it’s unclear if that would be taken into consideration if a court concludes notice must be given to parents. Additionally, he said has lingering concerns over provisions allowing parents to pursue civil damages against someone who helps their child in pursuing an abortion.

Indiana Right to Life said the bill, even as amended, increases parental rights.

“Parents have a valid interest in their minor daughter’s health and wellbeing and they deserve the additional provisions afforded to them” in the bill, the anti-abortion organization’s vice president of public affairs, Sue Swayze Liebel, wrote in a statement.

The panel advanced Houchin’s amended proposal on an 8-4 party-line vote, sending it to the House for consideration.

Other amendments approved Tuesday incorporate provisions from a separate bill by Republican Rep. Ron Bacon that a committee chairman announced Monday would not receive a hearing.

Portions included from his bill address abortion clinic licensure, reporting deadlines and sex trafficking training. Lawmakers did not add the most contentious part of Bacon’s measure -- requiring abortion providers to give women considering drug-induced abortions a form containing information of the potential to stop their procedure after taking the first of two drugs, including a disclaimer that no medical studies confirm it is possible.

House Public Policy Chairman Ben Smaltz has said he doesn’t intend to include that provision in any bill before his committee.



Posted 3/30/2017




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