West Virginia “Lawyers for Fetuses” Bill (HB 2371)
This law was last updated on Jun 29, 2016
HB 2371 would amend West Virginia’s parental notification law to permit the court to appoint a guardian ad litem for the interests of the “unborn child” should a pregnant minor wish to waive West Virginia’s parental notification requirements by petitioning a circuit court located in the jurisdiction in which the minor resides or in which the abortion is to be performed.
In West Virginia, a guardian ad litem must be an attorney and perform all duties required of an attorney licensed to practice in West Virginia, but does not have to be licensed to practice in West Virginia. In other words, this law permits the court to appoint a lawyer for the fetus.
The bill would permit the guardian ad litem to have the same rights and obligations of participation in the proceeding as given to the Attorney General and would require the guardian ad litem to advise the court so the court can make an informed decision. (The law does not state what rights and obligations the Attorney General has aside from preparing suggested form petitions and instructions.)
The bill would also state West Virginia’s public policy to protect “unborn life” as well as the intent of the Legislature to protect the rights of the minor mother.