Local teens back parental-notification bill in Legislature

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 7, 2013 

Sixteen-year-old Janet Kruschke told state senators Wednesday about the pain someone close to her went through after having two abortions.

That woman, now in her 50s, still struggles physically and emotionally with those decisions, she told lawmakers. The older woman had an abortion when she was 14, without the knowledge of her parents, Janet said during a hearing of the Senate Law & Justice Committee.

And that's why the Tri-Cities Prep sophomore, along with friend and Prep junior Mary Hoppes, 17, told lawmakers they support a bill requiring minors to tell their parents at least 48 hours before they have an abortion.

"Her parents could have helped her through that," Janet told the Herald.

The students reportedly were the only teenagers to testify. About 40 people testified for and against the bill, with 200 people filling the hearing room and another 100 watching the proceedings via video in another room.

"We wanted to represent girls our age," Mary said.

Under the measure, anyone who performs an abortion on a minor without proper notification is guilty of a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

A pregnant teen could petition a Superior Court for a waiver of the notice requirement. No notice is required if there is a medical emergency, The Associated Press reported.

The Prep students said they learned about the hearing weeks ago while attending a March for Life event in Olympia. They met with then-state Sen. Jerome Delvin, who now is a Benton County commissioner, and John Geis, government relations director with Family Policy Institute of Washington.

Janet said she and Mary asked how they could support anti-abortion causes and Geis invited them to testify at the hearing.

The Pasco students told the committee that teenagers are not mature enough to handle a decision as big as having an abortion without a parent and noted other decisions that teenagers aren't allowed make on their own.

"We used the comparison of how we can't get a piercing or use ibuprofen at school without a parent's permission," Mary said.

Both girls said testifying was intimidating but they were glad to voice their opinion.

Other testimony provided during the hearing pitted those who argued it was an issue of parental rights against those who say the measure is an effort to restrict access to abortion, The Associated Press reported.

Diana Roberts, a grandmother from Vancouver, told lawmakers that she opposed the bill because she believes that while teen communication with parents would be ideal, "it does not help to legislate that they talk to a judge," The Associated Press reported.

"I understand the desire of parents to be involved," she said. "This law cannot improve parent-teen communication, but it will endanger teens who try to circumvent it."

Sen. Mike Padden, a Republican from Spokane Valley, said he believed he had the votes to get it through committee. Beyond that, he said he couldn't predict whether the bill would get a Senate floor vote. Even if the bill was passed out of the Senate, it is certain to lose traction in the Democratic-controlled House, The Associated Press reported.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee said he was opposed to the bill, noting it "goes backwards to ideological debates that we should be well beyond in the state of Washington," The Associated Press reported.

According to The Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health issues, 38 states require some type of parental involvement in a minor's decision to have an abortion. More than 20 states require parental consent. Twelve others require parental notification only, and five require official notification and consent, The Associated Press reported.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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