- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2004

RICHMOND — The Virginia House yesterday approved bills that could make it harder for teenage girls and college students to get the morning-after pill, along with a bill that requires a fetus be anesthetized during an abortion.

The bills now head to the Senate Education and Health Committee, where they are likely to be rejected.

The parental-consent bill, which passed on a 59-41 vote, was sponsored by Delegate Kathy Byron, Campbell County Republican.

“We need to put safeguards in place for our children,” Mrs. Byron said. “We need to have the parents’ consent to give an aspirin to our children at school. We need to have consent to put a tattoo on their body.”

But Delegate Albert C. Eisenberg, Arlington County Democrat, said passing the bill only ensures “more abortions, more unwanted children and more abandoned babies.”

Also against the bill was Delegate Viola Baskerville, Richmond Democrat.

“We are not going to stop teens from having sex and getting pregnant just because we mandate parental consent,” she said, calling the bill a “sentence for contracting [sexually transmitted diseases].”

The morning-after pill, which can be taken up to 72 hours after intercourse, inhibits ovulation, implantation and fertilization of a female’s egg.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies the pill as a contraceptive, but some abortion opponents consider it a form of nonsurgical abortion. Critics also claim that easy access to the pill encourages reckless sexual behavior.

Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Manassas Republican, authored a bill that forbids state-funded colleges and universities from passing out the pill, which he said is the same as an abortion and is linked to cancer and sterility. It passed the House on a 52-47 vote.

“We have no business passing this garbage out,” Mr. Marshall said.

The “fetal pain” bill passed 68 to 32. The bill, authored by Delegate Richard H. “Dick” Black, Loudoun County Republican, requires doctors to inject a fetus in second- and third-trimester abortions with a pain-killing drug.

Mr. Black said there have been accounts of a fetus “screaming” and “crying” during abortion.

“Whether you are pro-life or you are pro-abortion, I urge you to simply be humane and merciful. Help end the suffering of these children,” he said during floor debate this week.

“Here we go again. This is another effort to impose ideology over science,” said Delegate Kristen J. Amundson, Fairfax County Democrat.

The Senate Education and Health Committee rejected a bill nearly identical to Mr. Black’s last week.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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