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Mass. Committee Hears Testimony on Parental Consent Bill

Mass. Committee Hears Testimony on Parental Consent, Fetal Anesthetization Bills

June 6, 2013 — The Massachusetts Public Health Committee on Tuesday heard testimony on a proposal (S 999) to modify the state's parental consent law, State House News Service/Cape Cod Today reports.

The bill -- sponsored by state Sen. Katherine Clark (D) -- would allow a minor who cannot discuss her pregnancy with her parents to obtain consent from a doctor, nurse or extended family member older than age 25 to have an abortion, rather than seeking permission from a judge to bypass the state's parental consent requirement.

Opponents of the measure said the bill would undermine parental rights and lead to more abortions.

Linda Thayer, vice president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, expressed concern that the bill would "make public schools a partner to abortion providers" because it would allow school nurses to give consent for an abortion.

Jamie Sabino, a private attorney who assists survivors of sexual assault, urged lawmakers to view the bill "as an alternative to going to court," not "as an alternative to parental consent." Sabino noted that going to court can be traumatic for a teenager, jeopardize confidentiality and delay medical care.

In response to opponents' claim that the bill would lead to more abortions, Sabino said parental consent laws have been shown to have little or no effect on the number of abortions.

Megan Amundson, executive director of NARAL Pro Choice Massachusetts, said, "The way to prevent abortion is make sure these young men and women have the tools to prevent unplanned pregnancy in the first place" (Murphy, State House News Service/Cape Cod Today, 6/5).