A bill moving through the Virginia House and Senate and which has support from Virginia Governor George Allen (R) would force women younger than 18 to notify a parent before having an abortion. The Virginia House has passed the bill but did so with added amendments which would allow a young woman to notify grandparents or adult siblings. Governor Allen has threatened a veto if the bill comes to him with the less restrictive amendments, and the Senate has already passed a parent-notification bill that would require one of the woman’s parents’ consent. During the House debate, Del. Vivian E. Watts (D-Fairfax), a victim of childhood incest, said that requiring young women to notify abusive parents would lead to catastrophic results. She commented, that young women who have had to notify their parents, “have been burned. They have been bruised. They have been totally ignored. They have been intimidated and controlled in every possible way by authority. They have no active parent at all.” Abortion rights activists argue that the parental notice restrictions on abortion are part of a barrage of anti-abortion legislation which has been increasing building in the past few years.
If Allen ends up signing any variation of the parent-notice legislation, it would be Virginia’s most significant restriction on abortion since the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to outlaw abortions in 1973. The Virginia Legislature, which has recently increased its number of Republicans, will also consider other abortion restrictive measures, like banning D&X procedures.