Monday, February 11, 2002

RICHMOND Legislation requiring an unmarried girl under 18 to get a parent’s permission before having an abortion was sent last night to a committee that has a long history of rejecting abortion restrictions.
The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 8-7 to send Sen. Charles J. Colgan’s bill to the Education and Health Committee, which meets today. Mr. Colgan, Prince William County Democrat, said the maneuver probably means his bill is dead.
“The votes just aren’t there to report it out,” he said.
The measure would expand a state law that requires a parent be notified when an underage daughter seeks an abortion. Supporters of the 1997 parental notification bill used a parliamentary maneuver to bypass the Senate health panel, which had killed it several years in a row.
The courts committee’s action came a day after the House of Delegates voted 73-25 to pass identical legislation. Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner opposes new restrictions on abortion.
Sen. Richard L. Saslaw, Fairfax County Democrat, proposed sending Mr. Colgan’s bill to the health committee, arguing that senators should hear medical testimony.
“We’re giving parents the right to force a 13- or 14-year-old girl to carry a pregnancy to term against her will,” he said. “This is a health matter of great magnitude.”
Mr. Colgan urged the committee to vote the bill up or down.
“If this bill goes to the Education and Health Committee, it’s dead,” he said.
Ben Greenberg, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said in an interview that the committee did the right thing.
“I’ve felt all along that this kind of legislation has a health impact,” he said. “This would give parents a veto that puts the daughters at serious health risk.”
Louise D. Hartz, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, said the bill provides additional protection against misrepresentation by requiring the notarized signature of a parent.
The courts committee met into the night yesterday to clear its docket as the General Assembly faces a deadline of tomorrow for each chamber to act on its own bills.
On a voice vote, the panel endorsed legislation allowing authorities to take a DNA sample blood, saliva or tissue from a person arrested on a felony charge. Those samples are now taken upon a felony conviction.
Sen. William C. Mims, Loudoun County Republican, said the state forensics lab would be able to compare the sample with others in its DNA data bank to determine if the person might have committed other crimes. A match, or “cold hit,” could influence a judge’s decision whether to release the defendant on bond, he said.
“This moves us light years ahead in trying to keep violent felons off the street,” Mr. Mims said in an interview.
A defendant would be able to petition the court to have the DNA record expunged if he is acquitted or the charge is dropped.
The committee also sent to the Senate floor a bill allowing a resident to initiate legal action against a vendor defrauding the state.
The panel rejected legislation creating a “rebuttable presumption” that divorcing couples should have joint custody of children and requiring judges to explore alternatives to jail time for child support scofflaws.
Legislation prohibiting gambling over the Internet or by other electronic means was killed after legislators said it would make a friendly wager via e-mail a criminal offense and could affect state-licensed off-track betting parlors.

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