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Parental notification bill recommended by panel


State House Bureau Chief

CONCORD — The House Judiciary Committee yesterday voted 10-9 to recommend passage of a bill that requires parents to be notified before a girl under 18 has an abortion.

House Bill 763 would require doctors to notify parents or legal guardians in person or by certified mail, then wait 48 hours before they perform an abortion on minors.

Girls who refuse to let doctors notify their parents can seek a confidential court hearing, which must take place within seven days, looking for a judge’s permission to have an abortion. If a girl decides to appeal the judge’s finding, the appeal must be settled in seven days.

An amendment to the bill yesterday dropped requirements that doctors make detailed reports to the state on abortions on minors and notification procedures they follow.

Rep. Phyllis Woods, R-Dover, a co-sponsor of the measure said the reporting requirements that were pulled from the bill will be introduced as a separate measure next year.

The bill has to pass a vote by the full House next week before it can be taken up by the state Senate. Woods said she will work hard to win the votes it needs. She described the bill as a parental rights measure, not a limit on abortion rights.

“We need to protect minor children from their own immaturity,” she said. “Parents who have the responsibility and duty to provide for the well-being and medical care of their children have the right to knowledge and information about and input into medical decisions that affect their minor children,” she said.

The bill would bring New Hampshire into line with Maine and Massachusetts, which have parental notification laws on the books, Woods said.

But Rep. Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, who voted against the measure, said the idea of parental rights is a side-issue. “This is a bill about abortion, no matter what anyone says,” she said.

Lasky argued that the bill does not protect girls who can’t go to their parents because of their family situations, and blocks intervention by other adults.

“Family closeness and good rapport start at birth and can’t be mandated by the state,” she said.

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