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."