- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

RICHMOND Pro-life advocates won several key battles yesterday when a House committee passed numerous bills limiting abortion.
The bills, including a ban on "partial-birth" abortion and requiring parental consent for minors, will go to a full House vote as early as Friday.
"They already have enough methods to kill," said Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William County Republican and lead sponsor of the partial-birth abortion bill.
Virginia legislators have been trying for several years to pass a ban on partial-birth abortion.
The Supreme Court struck down a Nebraska law passed in the late 1990s because it had no exemption for mothers whose health might be in danger if the pregnancy continued. The General Assembly passed the legislation last year, but it was vetoed by Gov. Mark R. Warner, a Democrat.
Mr. Marshall said his bill did not regulate abortion but when the state could dictate when life could be protected. Under his bill, once the head of a fetus is delivered at any stage of the pregnancy, that fetus would be considered a live person. Anything done to harm that fetus from that stage on would be considered infanticide.
"There is only one procedure that meets this" definition, he said. "This bill defines the onset of birth."
Abortions that take place in the first and second trimester are done through injections while the fetus is in the womb.
Mr. Marshall said his wording was key because he is trying to "sidestep" the ruling that overturned Nebraska's partial-birth abortion ban.
A representative from state Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore's office said the bill was constitutional but that he expects a court challenge.
Committee Chairman Robert F. McDonnell, a supporter of the measure and possible candidate to be the next attorney general, agreed.
"I fully understand if we pass this legislation, it is going to be challenged," said Mr. McDonnell, Virginia Beach Republican.
There are no statistics on how often the procedure is performed. Ben Greenberg, legislative director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said an average of four third-trimester abortions when partial-birth abortions are typically performed are performed annually in the state.
Lawmakers also passed a bill requiring minors to obtain parental consent before undergoing an abortion.
Donna Clark, a mother from Yorktown who testified before the committee, said that when her daughter was 13 or 14 years old and had an abortion without parental consent, she was not a woman.
"Maybe to produce or reproduce but not in mind," she said.
Mrs. Clark also said her daughter, now 26, has since suffered from emotional problems.
Though Mrs. Clark was not notified of the abortion, she had to sign for the medical attention her daughter needed after the procedure.
Opponents to the legislation say sufficient measures are in place and that there are many children who fear going to their parents, particularly if they are in an abusive environment.
"The problem with parental notification and parental consent is that it puts girls in horrendous situations that can be life threatening," said Marjorie Signer, vice president of legislation for the Virginia National Organization for Women.
Delegate Richard H. Black, Loudoun County Republican, became emotional at times as he told committee members that the bill had to pass because of the "thousands of boys' and girls' lives it would save."
Mr. Black sponsored similar legislation last year, which passed the House, but failed in the Senate. Virginia law states that minors must notify a parent or guardian but do not need their permission.
A conscience clause for pharmacists also was passed. It allows those who dispense medication, such as birth control or abortion pills, to stop providing the drugs if it goes against their religious beliefs.
Mr. Warner, whose only veto during last year's session was the partial-birth ban, is pro-choice. He has said he would support a ban on partial-birth abortion if it met constitutional standards but would be unlikely to support other abortion regulations.
"I think we have appropriate abortion restrictions in place," Mr. Warner said last week.

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