Text of letter sent to Senator Michael Roberson on December 11, 2015:
Dear Senator Roberson,
During the next week, Governor Sandoval will likely call a special session of the legislature. As such, you are presented with a rare opportunity to address a glaring loophole in Nevada law, namely the lack of parental involvement in an underage girl’s decision to have an abortion, a surgical procedure
AB405 would have corrected this loophole and established a commonsense level of parental rights. This bill required one parent notification for a minor girl seeking an abortion. It included a judicial bypass and an exception for medical emergencies.
Senator, what other medical or surgical procedures allow a child under 18 to provide consent? Girls in Nevada can’t get Tylenol, go on a field trip at school or have their ears pierced without the consent of one parent, let alone SIMPLE NOTIFICATION. Unfortunately, due to politics, this bill was never properly considered. Hearings were scheduled at the last minute. Legislators erroneously told the media that it was dead several times throughout the process. It was blocked in your caucus. It was never given an up or down vote in your Senate. I heard from many Republican legislators throughout the session that the bill was dead on arrival because of the Governor’s opposition. I have heard from you that you have always been in favor of parental notification. The upcoming session provides you the opportunity to put your considerable sway within your caucus and with the governor to great service of families throughout the state.
It is my feeling that the governor does not care one way or another on this issue. Please answer the call of the thousands of citizens of Nevada who took time to call, write, email, send postcards and attend hearings, by leveraging the desire to bring Farraday to Nevada to pass AB405. The girls of Nevada will finally enjoy the protection given the millions of girls in the thirty-eight states that have parental involvement laws. Please lend your considerable political capital to this small issue that will affect so many in our state.
When my daughter is late for a class in highschool, I get a phone call from the attendance office. Yet, a teacher or counselor or boyfriend’s mother could take her to a clinic for an abortion, a surgical procedure with real and documented risks or a chemical, RU-486 abortion [not to be confused with emergency contraception] with real and documented risks without me ever knowing. I would be unable to counsel her on ALL of her options. I would not have the opportunity to pick the best doctor. I would not have any clue that she had a medical procedure that necessitated post-operative care. How horrible to find that important information out in the emergency room, or God forbid, the morgue. This is a REAL concern.
Imagine the stress that a young girl – with her life ahead of her – faces when she finds she is pregnant. Imagine the fear of the unknown, the desire not to disappoint her parents or cause them any grief, the feeling that abortion is a Hobson’s Choice. That is what a number of girls feel. If only her parents were involved to bring the experience of a lifetime of living through mistakes, perhaps she would not feel like abortion is her ONLY choice.
AB405 would require the doctor to notify one parent. There is a 48-hour waiting period to allow the parent to present all options. After that time, if the young girl chooses abortion, even against the will of her parents, she has the right to pursue that path. If her parents provide proof of notification, the abortion proceeds immediately. For whatever reason, if the minor child does not want a parent notified, she may utilize the judicial bypass. The judicial bypass meets the Supreme Court time requirements and provides a “sealed-plus” level of confidentiality for the petitioner.
Although the word “abortion” appeared in the summary of AB405, this is not a pro-life or pro-choice bill. This is a parental rights bill. No girl wishing to get an abortion will be denied. It merely requires a second set of eyes, whether a parent, guardian or judicial surrogate, to assist a girl in the midst of a crisis pregnancy. Pro-choice and pro-life advocates alike see the wisdom in parental involvement. One interesting fact – in polling, women are in favor of parental notification at a higher rate than men. I would imagine it is because we, as women, know what is involved in pregnancy, child-bearing and abortion. We know – either through our own experience, or the experience of a friend or family member – how the choice to get an abortion can be a lonely, painful and ceaseless event – one that should not be undertaken without a parent or loved one.
A parent knows their daughter’s medical history and has the resources to choose the best medical care for their daughter. Without the knowledge of a medical procedure, a parent will not be able to provide necessary and proper pre- and post-operative care and caution.
AB405 is a tightly written bill that passes constitutional muster. It is based on Minnesota’s parental involvement law that the US Supreme Court declared constitutional over 25 years ago.
Over 30 states have similar laws – some much more stringent – and have seen real benefits like reduced teen pregnancy and abortion rates. Tragically, Nevada has some of the worst teen pregnancy and abortion rates in the country. This has proved to be a bi-partisan solution in other states. Isn’t it time we try something new?
Some are concerned that such notice would expose the child to abuse from her parent(s). While this is certainly not the norm, abuse does exist and we are rightly concerned about protecting young girls. But teens in severely abusive situations need help. Providing them an abortion and returning them to the abusive environment merely allows the abuse to continue undetected. Sexual predators and sex traffickers use abortion to cover their crimes. Who better than a family court judge to intervene in such a case?
Although it was alleged the judicial bypass in AB405 could take 21-28 days, 30 years of experience in other states prove otherwise. The judicial bypass in other states is very efficient and timely and rarely takes longer than a few days. Teens are not forced to stand before a judge and jury. It is generally an action in front of a judge in chambers. Every effort is made to protect the girl’s privacy and dignity.
Including parental notification in a call for special session would allow it to get a proper hearing at a time when it has the highest possibility of passage. I fear without your intervention, pre-teens, teens and parents will not have the necessary protection in law for another thirty years.
I am giving you the first opportunity to right a horrible wrong. As you know, I am passionate about the safety of our children. Like many parents in the state of Nevada, I will not rest until young girls and the rights of their parents are protected.
Please call me as soon as possible. I know that you understand that time is of the essence.
For their lives,
Melissa Clement, Nevada Right to Life, President