Parental Notification Bill to be Heard in Washington State

Few expect the bill to ever become law, but rejoice in just having it put up for a vote in the first place.

Sen. Mike Padden announces the bill to cheering anti-choice activists. (Jim Camden/The Spokesman Review)

Washington state is one of only 12 states that does not force a teen to involve her parents before obtaining an abortion, and that fact isn’t likely to change this legislative session. Still, anti-choice activists in the state are excited to announce that they have gotten closer than they ever have before to getting a bill to require parental notification up for a vote.

Via the Spokesman-Review:

State Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, told a cheering crowd of anti-abortion activists Tuesday that a parental notification bill will get the first Senate hearing in years sometime during the next few weeks.

“You have to keep up the fight,” he told demonstrators at the annual March for Life, who filled the steps of the Capitol and the steps of the Temple of Justice across the flag plaza. The Washington State Patrol estimated the crowd at more than 2,000.

Padden is a co-sponsor of the bill and chairman of the Law and Justice Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill, so a hearing is a sure thing. The committee’s membership also includes other strong abortion opponents such as Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, who told the cheering crowd that parental notification for a medical procedure was logical.

The bill is also another example of what a dangerous game “non-partisan” bill drafters can play when it comes to creating new laws. Accidentally added to the bill was new language that would have rescinded the right to an abortion that the state already wrote into law two decades earlier. According to The Columbian:

Although the bill’s title made no mention of it, one section of that bill would have repealed parts of Initiative 120, which voters approved in 1991.

That initiative set in stone a woman’s right to privacy when obtaining an abortion, and it declared that physicians have the right to perform abortions and that women have the right to get one, as long as the fetus could not survive outside the womb. The section of the bill that would have repealed parts of I-120 was erroneously added by the state’s nonpartisan bill drafters, Code Reviser Kyle Thiessen told Republicans in an email.

The new draft of Senate Bill 5156 omits the section in question.

With a Democratic stronghold in the House, no bill is expected to make it to the floor, making a final law an impossibility. Still, the fact that the senate has enough abortion opponents in power to finally get a vote, and that someone is sneaking anti-choice language into bill drafts,  shows exactly how tenuous the hold on reproductive rights is in every state—even one as progressive as Washington.