Last Week, in his veto message of HB329, the parental notification bill, Governor Lynch cited a number of significant changes he would like to be made to the current bill. However, had the Governor actually read the bill he vetoed, he would have realized that many of his suggested changes are already covered by the existing piece of legislation. For instance:
The Governor stated he wanted to see an exception made for victims of rape, incest, or abuse. However, the current bill already has a judicial by-pass provision built into it so that a minor who is not comfortable with her parent or guardian being notified for any reason (including rape, incest or abuse) can in fact seek judicial approval to bypass the notification – thus preventing her from having to possibly “involve” her perpetrator, contrary to what the Governor suggests. Also, it should be noted that in none of the US Supreme Court cases governing parental notification did the Court ever state that an exception for rape, incest, or abuse was necessary – only a medical emergency which this bill provides. Finally, whenever a minor has been a victim or rape, incest, or abuse, a crime has been committed. Allowing an automatic exception in those instances that excludes the parent or guardian from being notified only increases the likelihood that those crimes will go unreported and will continue. By involving a parent or even a judge in those particular cases, better ensures that the predator will also be held accountable. It is quite unfortunate that the Governor would rather sacrifice the safety of a minor for political ideology.
Second, the Governor stated that the language “substantial and irreversible” with regard to the section in the bill that pertains to the physician’s judgment is “unworkable, complex, and too narrow.” Yet, the Supreme Court of the United States did not find this language to mirror any of the Governor’s colorful descriptions. Rather, Justice O’Connor, writing for the Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) – when specifically addressing the “substantial and irreversible” language of a 1990 Pennsylvania law – stated: “…the medical emergency definition imposes no undue burden on a woman’s abortion right.”
Finally, the Governor seems to balk at the fact that an abortion provider who fails to comply with the law may be subject to criminal or civil penalties. The Governor’s specific bone of contention seems to be that guidelines for the abortion provider on how to comply with the law are unclear. Is the Governor even serious here? Are we to believe that physicians who have been schooled their entire careers in properly documenting their actions in 99% of the other medical procedures they perform, will suddenly be at a loss on how to properly document cases under this new law? Just to be clear, it starts with step number one: notify a parent. Perhaps it’s not that the guidelines are unclear, rather it’s just that the Governor doesn’t like them.
For the reasons stated above, Cornerstone urges the Legislature to reject the Governor’s phony excuses for vetoing parental notification and to side with common-sense and parental rights by overriding his veto.
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