The Missouri House of Representatives has approved legislation which would require that both parents of a minor child seeking an abortion be notified before an abortion can be performed. The proposal, House Bill 1370, is sponsored by Representative Rocky Miller of Lake Ozark. The legislation was given final passage in the House last week by a vote of 121-34.
Missouri has long required that an abortion cannot be performed on a minor without the written consent of a parent or guardian. The state’s parental consent statute was first adopted by the Missouri General Assembly.
Federal courts have ruled over the years that states cannot legally require the consent of both parents, but can require the consent of one parent and the notification of the other.
Under the provisions of the bill, the parent granting consent to an abortion for their minor child must notify any other “custodial parent” or guardian in writing prior to the performance of the abortion. A “custodial parent” is defined as the other parent in a home where the parents have not divorced or separated, or where the other parent has been awarded joint legal or joint physical custody of the child as a result of dissolution of the marriage.
Notification of the other parent is not required when that parent has been found guilty of sexual crimes or crimes against the child or the family; when that parent is listed on the sexual offender registry or the child abuse or neglect registry; when that parent is the subject of an order of protection; or a parent whose whereabouts are unknown “after reasonable inquiry.”
Representative Miller says he was inspired to sponsor the bill after an incident that occurred years ago in his own family. Miller says he was called by his ex-wife informing him that his 15 year-old daughter was pregnant.
“She said, ‘We’re at Planned Parenthood…and you need to get over here…What are we gonna do?'” Miller says he was blessed that they were able to talk through the issue as a family and that his daughter decided to give birth to the child, who is today Representative Miller’s 10 year-old granddaughter.
Miller says he remains haunted by the thought that the abortion could have occurred and he would have not known anything about it. He says he would have felt heartbroken that he had no opportunity to provide support, encouragement, and counsel to his daughter in a moment of crisis.
Representative Diane Franklin of Camdenton, the Chairwoman of the House Children and Families Committee, agreed that decisions about a child’s unintended pregnancy should involve discussion by the family as a whole. “Bringing life, working through life, choosing life, is a healing process, it is a loving process, it is a valued process.”
Opponents of the bill argued that in many families parents do not have healthy relationships with their children. Representative Anne Zerr of St. Charles responded forcefully to that generalization. “I was from one of those non-perfect families. There was physical abuse, there was sexual abuse. I got out of that, and today I am proudly pro-life.”
What the opponents of the bill fail to mention is that a minor child who is unable to obtain the consent of a parent to procure an abortion, is able to go to court to obtain the permission of a judge to have an abortion performed. Federal courts have always insisted that parental consent laws contain such an option, which is most often referred to as the “judicial bypass” process.
Under Missouri law, a minor may file a petition in juvenile court seeking legal authority to self-consent to an abortion. A judge may grant such permission if he or she concludes that “the minor is of sound mind and has sufficient intellectual capacity to consent to the abortion,” and that the abortion “is is in the best interest” of the minor child.
Representative Sonya Anderson of Springfield has also filed legislation to tighten up Missouri’s parental consent statutes. Under her bill, House Bill 1968, a parent granting consent to a minor’s abortion must provide government-issued proof of identity establishing that the person is truly the lawful parent or legal guardian of the minor child.
It has long been believed that older men who have impregnated young girls have claimed to be the parent of the child in order to remove evidence of their crime of statutory rape. Undercover videos have revealed the willingness of Planned Parenthood to enable sexual predators to cover up instances of illegal sex with minors by providing abortions to teenage girls.
Representative Anderson’s bill has been heard by the House Children and Families Committee, but has not been advanced to the House floor for formal debate.
Representative Miller’s bill now moves to the Senate with plenty of time left in the session for it to be taken up for debate and voted on in that chamber. The House approved Representative Miller’s bill two years ago, but it then died in the Senate. We pray that it does not experience the same fate this year.
You can contact your state senator to urge them to vote for House Bill 1370, the parental notification bill, by using this link: