Wash. Lawmakers Revise Parental Notification Bill After Concerns About Penalties

January 29, 2013 — Republican lawmakers in Washington state on Monday altered a bill (SB 5156) that would have imposed penalties on physicians who performed abortions and redefined the procedure, the AP/Salem Statesman Journal reports.

State Sen. Mike Padden (R), the bill's sponsor, said the bill was only meant to require parental notification before a minor can obtain an abortion.

Under the bill's original language, state laws allowing women to seek abortions and doctors to perform them would have been repealed. In the event that federal laws permitting abortion were reversed, doctors performing abortions in Washington could have been punished by up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

The bill also would have changed the definition of abortion to include the use of any drug, device or substance that would "with reasonable likelihood cause the death of the unborn child."

'Drafting Error'

Padden said that he never intended to impose penalties on doctors and that the revised bill excludes such language. The revised bill also eliminated the new definition of abortion.

Kyle Thiessen -- head of the non-partisan state code revisers office, which helps draft and review bills to ensure they are consistent with current statutes -- said the proposed criminal penalties were "an unintentional drafting error."

Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, said, "That seems like a pretty big drafting error to me." She added the remaining parental notification requirement is not helpful to pregnant teens.

A public hearing on the bill will be held on Feb. 6 (AP/Salem Statesman Journal, 1/28).