On Saturday, April 8, the last day of West Virginia’s legislative session, the state’s Senate and House of Delegates respectively voted overwhelmingly in favor of HB 2002, also known as the Parent’s Right to Know Act. The bill would counter a loophole in state law that allows abortionists to perform abortions on underage girls without parental knowledge in certain cases.
West Virginians for Life Legislative Coordinator Karen Cross sees the vote as a victory for parental rights. “West Virginia’s pro-life legislators recognized the need to protect the rights of parents to know when their daughter is contemplating an abortion, which is an invasive surgical procedure and a life-changing decision,” she said.
In addition to upholding parental rights, Cross believes that HB 2002 could relate to protecting minors in abusive situations. “If a child is a victim of sexual abuse, I find it unbelievable that she can be given a secret abortion and returned to the abuse,” she explained. “This law should rectify that because judges are mandatory reporters.”
In March, the bill was amended by a House subcommittee to allow for an exception to parental notification when waived by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. However, the amendment was removed by the Senate, which passed the bill by a 28-6 vote. The House of Delegates later voted 82-17 in favor of the bill as altered by the Senate.
Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of the pro-abortion advocacy organization West Virginia FREE, expressed frustration at state legislators for later removing it. “They’re saying to the medical community: ‘We don’t trust you,’” Pomponio told the Gazette-Mail. “They’re saying to young women: ‘You don’t deserve this safety net.’” Joseph Cohen of the American Civil Liberties Union called the bill “heartless.”
Earlier this month, the West Virginia legislature also passed the Telemedicine Bill, which included an amendment to prevent long-distance prescription of abortion pills. The Bill allows for physicians to prescribe certain drugs using telemedicine technology. The abortion industry had indicated intent to use the legislation to spread webcam abortions. An amendment to prevent this was added in the Senate, and approved by the House.
The Parent’s Right to Know Act and the Telemedicine Bill will both head to the desk of Governor Jim Justice.