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Bill Would Require Parental Consent for Minor's Abortion

By , | Posted - Jan. 10, 2006 at 6:52 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- An underage girl seeking an abortion would have to have a parent's consent under a bill proposed for the 2006 Legislature.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Kerry Gibson, R-West Weber, and Sen. Darin Peterson, R-Juab.

Utah's 1974 parental notification law requires doctors to notify a girl's parents before ending her pregnancy.

Twenty-one states have parental consent laws and 13 require parental notification but not consent, according to the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute.

The proposed legislation would require doctors to get at least one parent's permission 24 hours before the procedure.

If the girl feared abuse if her parents discovered her pregnancy, or if the pregnancy was the result of incest, she could petition a judge, rather than her parent, for permission.

The bill also provides an exception in an emergency or if a "medical condition exists that poses a significant threat of harm to the life or health of the minor."

Gibson, a dairy farmer, decided to sponsor the bill after reading about a parent who was unable to get information about a child's treatment because of medical privacy laws. Twenty-eight Republican House members have signed on as co-sponsors.

"This is a parental rights issue," Gibson said. "I'm responsible for anything my child does underage -- even to the point of being responsible for the bill. It's critical parents give their consent to this."

Planned Parenthood Director Karrie Galloway said 95 percent of Utah girls seeking abortions already come to clinics with their parents.

"It's been working pretty darn well in Utah. Parents do get notified," Galloway says. "Providers are doing nothing to circumvent the law."

Galloway said lawmakers want to force mothers or fathers to make the decision for their child.

Galloway also wondered why the bill did not include funding for the judicial bypass system, including legal representation for the girls.

Galloway was not ready to say whether Planned Parenthood would challenge the measure if it were enacted.

Gibson said the bill incorporates all legal and health exceptions required by the U.S. Supreme Court.

He said it brings Utah's 30-year-old law in line with other state and federal laws, removing a requirement that doctors notify a woman's husband and adding a process for girls to appeal to a judge for permission.

"I wrote this bill specifically with the intention of making sure it passed constitutional muster," Gibson said. "I've done everything possible to make sure that it won't be challenged."

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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