- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 4, 2004

RICHMOND (AP) — A Senate committee yesterday rejected bills that would have imposed new restrictions on abortion clinics and distribution of the morning-after birth control pill.

The Education and Health Committee voted 9-6 to reject a proposal by Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William Republican, to require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgery centers.

The panel also rejected a bill by Delegate Kathy J. Byron, Campbell Republican, that would have required parental consent before a girl under 18 could obtain the morning-after pill. The vote was 9-4, with two abstentions.

Sen. William T. Bolling, Hanover Republican, said that “absent some routine review and inspection, we don’t have the foggiest idea what’s taking place inside these abortion clinics.”

The panel also rejected Mrs. Byron’s bill, which would have required parental consent before a girl under 18 could obtain the morning-after pill. The vote was 9-4, with two abstentions.

Mrs. Byron said her emergency contraceptive bill simply would ensure that parents have a role in their children’s health care.

“I’m not trying to ban the pill,” said Mrs. Byron, adding that the long-term health effects of the morning-after pill have not been adequately studied.

Dr. Wendy Klein, associate professor of internal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology at Virginia Commonwealth University, said emergency contraceptives have an “impeccable” safety record.

She said Mrs. Byron’s bill would “do far more harm than good” by delaying minors’ access to the pill, which must be taken within 72 hours after intercourse to be effective.

***

Nudist camps for teens would be prohibited under a provision passed by a Virginia Senate panel yesterday despite the vehement protests of the nudist community.

Nudists claim the legislation is unique. It passed the Senate Education and Health Committee unanimously after opponents said it infringed on the rights of parents. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for debate.

Delegate John S. Reid, Henrico County Republican, said his legislation was aimed at shutting down a weeklong camp for teenagers at White Tail Park, a nudist colony in Southampton County. According to the American Association of Nude Recreation, it was only the third such camp for juveniles in the nation.

Mr. Reid’s bill would prohibit the state from licensing any hotel, summer camp or campground that allows nudist camps for juveniles without the supervision of their parents, grandparents or legal guardians.

***

The House passed a bill that would double fines for people who repeatedly violate High Occupancy Vehicle lane regulations on Northern Virginia highways.

The bill also would add three points to the driving records of frequent HOV-lane abusers.

A first offense still would result in a $50 fine, but the fine for a second would increase from $100 to $200, and so on.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. William C. Mims, Leesburg Republican, said he thinks that the Senate will accept House amendments and send the bill to Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat.

Mr. Mims said the bill is aimed at drivers who don’t “believe that the laws apply to them.”

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