Reax to Abortion Decision: Concern, Desire for Tougher Laws

Concern about the teen who wants an abortion and a desire to require parental permission for any medical procedures — not just notification — are among the reactions to today’s Colorado Court of Appeals ruling that basically requires one pregnant teen to tell her mother before getting the procedure.

Such views illustrate the range of opinion on an issue that’s been know to make or break politicians running for office.

More after the jump…Consider, for example, the viewpoint of Colorado Right to Life.

“Even though it seems like something we should be applauding, we really are reevaluating the strategy of it in the first place,” says Leslie Hanks, vice president of the group. “We’re not opposed to an incremental approach, but to an incremental tack that ends with `and then you can kill the baby.’ “

Susan Levy, a lawyer and executive director of Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center, takes the abortion-rights supporters’ approach.

“If she’s got her dates right, she’s very likely into the second trimester. That’s a riskier procedure… I hope she still has her abortion and I hope her mother doesn’t throw her out of the house.”

Levy says this is the first instance she’s heard of where a judge has denied so-called judicial bypass. Many teens who seek to avoid telling their parents they’re seeking an abortion have dramatic reasons –  fear of physical abuse or being tossed on the street. One girl’s mother was dying of cancer. “What a heartbreaking thing,” Levy says.

Levy chastised the appeals court for taking three and a half weeks to consider the case.

“To me, that does increase the risk to her health. You cannot tell me that three and a half weeks is an expedited decision.”

Colorado is one of 11 states requiring parental notification before a minor has an abortion; all of those states provide for judicial bypass, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Twenty-two states require parental permission for a minor to have an abortion.

Notification laws such as Colorado’s are no longer a priority — or even a preference – for Colorado Right to Life. Hanks notes the recent split between the state and national Right to Life group after Brian Rorhbough, parent of one of the students killed at Columbine High School in 1999, became president.

The Colorado group would support a law requiring parental agreement for any medical procedure on a minor – with no mention of the word abortion, Hanks says.

“The judicial bypass in other states has been nothing but a rubberstamp,” Hanks says. “It’s really not what it’s cracked up to be.”

The General Assembly enacted Colorado’s notification law in 2003, a few years after courts overturned a prior law approved by voters in 1998. Despite a change in control of the legislature and governor’s office, Levy says she doesn’t expect the law to change any time soon.