Montana Legislature

Feb 16, 2013 2:55 PM by Lindsey Gordon - MTN News

Abortion notification bill stirs debate in Helena

HELENA - The Montana House Judiciary Committee heard a bill on Friday that would make it illegal for minors to obtain an abortion without parental consent.

The highly divided political issue of abortion divides opponents and proponents right down the middle. House Bill 391 seeks to make it illegal for girls under 18 to obtain an abortion without notarized parental consent.

Backers of the bill say they believe the bill will protect minors, and one parent testified with a personal story about her own daughter seeking an abortion and how she has struggled in her personal life since.

"At 16, she was not equipped to make a decision that was going to affect her for the rest of her life. We wanted to have participation in her choices, but for whatever reason she didn't feel safe coming to us, but we would have been able to help her with a decision that would have been better for her, but we weren't allowed to participate in it and they just went ahead," Janet Carson said.

Under the bill, minors can obtain a judicial waiver for consent, but those testifying against HB 391 called that solution preposterous.

"Divulging sensitive and traumatizing circumstances to a judge in a public space, being questioned repeatedly about how and who and why and doing this all while figuring out how to drive back and forth and miss school and find the money to pay for the gas and the attorney and the JAL is preposterous," Sarah Rossi commented.

Medical history and health complications are two reasons bill proponents gave for why its important that parents be involved and give consent for abortions.

"So many times when we collect medical history from these young girls, they're not familiar with their history and in particular, their family history," explained nurse and mid-wife Carol Kolar.

National statistics show that 10% of women suffer immediate complications, and 2% of the 10% are having major complications from medical abortions.

But opponents strongly reject the bill, saying it does the opposite of protecting minors.

"It does nothing to enhance the protection of minors, but is more likely to hurt minors by making them delay care, or driving them into dangerous situations where they may harm themselves or seek an illegal abortion," Niki Zupanic with the ACLU of Montana said.

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