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WV lawmakers agree to compromise on adolescent abortion bill

Three lawmakers have agreed to a compromise on a bill that would place new restrictions on adolescent abortions in West Virginia.

During a House of Delegates Committee on the Judiciary subcommittee meeting Tuesday, Delegates Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, Amy Summers, R-Taylor, and Kayla Kessinger, R-Fayette, agreed to an amended bill that would make licensed psychologists and psychiatrists the only healthcare providers able to waive parental notification before adolescent abortions.

West Virginia law currently requires a doctor to give parents at least 24 hours notice before another doctor can perform an abortion on an adolescent, but it includes two exceptions — minors may obtain a waiver from a physician or from a judge.

The original bill, sponsored by Kessinger, removes the physician waiver option and requires an unemancipated minor to obtain permission from a judge to undergo an abortion without notifying a parent or legal guardian.

More than 40 people, most against House Bill 2002, spoke during a public hearing about the bill Monday. Later that day, House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, appointed the subcommittee to review the bill.

During the public hearing, several sexual abuse survivors spoke against the bill, saying their home environments would have become more dangerous if their parents became aware of a pregnancy or abortion.

During the subcommittee meeting Tuesday, Charles Roskovensky, attorney for the House of Delegates, explained to the three lawmakers that in the amended version of the bill, licensed psychologists and psychiatrists would be the only healthcare professionals able to waive parental notification, and other types of doctors would not.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Adolescence, the American Public Health Association and the American Medical Association have spoken out against requiring minors to go to court for access to care.

West Virginia Free, the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, the West Virginia Citizen Action Group and the West Virginia State Medical Association have spoken against the original bill. West Virginians for Life and the Catholic Conference of West Virginia have supported it.

Following Tuesday’s committee meeting, representatives of WV Free and the ACLU said they continue to oppose the bill, although Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of WV Free, said the amended version is an improvement.

The bill now goes back to the House Judiciary Committee for review by the full committee.

Reach Erin Beck at erin.beck@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5163, Facebook.com/erinbeckwv, or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.

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