[bold] Parents would have to give their teenagers permission before they could receive birth control or be treated for sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse or mental illness, under a bill approved in a House committee on Tuesday. [/bold]
Opponents said it would be the most restrictive law in the nation and would put teenagers’ health
in danger. Supporters say the intention is to restore parental control over their children’s lives.
The bill would also require minors or their parents to visit a notary public to affirm the parental permission that is already required under state law before they could receive an abortion. In another abortion-related vote, the full House voted later Tuesday to prohibit abortions that are based on the gender of the fetus.
If the parental consent bill passes, House Bill 693 would repeal a four-decade old law that has allowed minors to seek treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and birth control without a parent’s or guardian’s consent.
Rep. Marilyn Avila, a Republican from Raleigh, said laws like that have been “undermining our families” for the past 20 or 30 years. She said what’s needed is “less emphasis on individual children and more on the family.”
But Rep. Verla Insko, a Democrat from Chapel Hill, said the law was enacted back in the 1970s because “there were real problems.”
“Teenagers were delaying treatment,” Insko said. “They were getting sicker, they were spreading venereal disease, in some cases committing suicide because they could not talk to their parents.”
The bill would require minors seeking treatment for those health concerns to either go to the doctor’s office with a parent or guardian, or show up with a notarized authorization.
The House Health and Human Services Committee heard from two pediatricians and the Covenant with North Carolina Children urging them to vote against the bill, saying it would undermine teenagers’ relationship with their doctors. The physicians said they always encourage minors to involve their parents, but in some cases that isn’t possible.
The committee also heard from two advocacy groups on the other side: the N.C. Values Coalition and the N.C. Family Policy Council. Both said the bill would give parents common-sense authority over their children.
The vote passed 14-8, and now goes to the full House.
The sex-selection abortion ban bill, House Bill 716, passed the House on a 79-40 vote, with three Democrats crossing party lines to vote with the Republicans: Rep. Kelly Alexander of Charlotte, Rep. Larry Bell of Clinton and Rep. Larry Brisson of Dublin.
It would expose doctors to lawsuits and heavy fines if they knowingly perform an abortion because of the gender of the fetus.
The primary sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Republican from Charlotte, acknowledged it isn’t known if there are any sex-selection abortions in North Carolina, but she said one would be too many.
Rep. Deborah Ross, a Democrat from Raleigh, said she opposes the bill because it expands the number of people who can sue physicians – a woman’s parents or spouse, for example – and that it could lead to racial profiling. Testimony in a committee meeting raised concerns that it was aimed at people from Asian countries, where there have been reports of aborting female fetuses.
Most abortions are performed in the early stages of pregnancy before the sex of the fetus is known.
“It’s a smokescreen,” said Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat from Greensboro. “The real agenda is to punish doctors and ban all legal abortions in our state.”