Abortion providers in Virginia will appear today in a Richmond, VA appeals court to challenge the constitutionality of a parental consent law which took effect July 1, 1997. According to statistics from the Virginia health department and abortion clinics show that teenage girls received 20 percent fewer abortions in Virginia since the law took effect, but opponents of the law believe that the young women traveled to Washington, DC, for the abortions, rather than face parents who may not support their decisions.
Abortion clinic and hot line employees report a dramatic increase in calls concerning how to get around the parental consent law. Amy Schriefer, a hot-line operator at the National Abortion Federation, said “it’s definitely a hot spot there .... Before, I never got calls from Virginia asking about D.C. and whether they had a parental law. But now, we get maybe seven to 10 calls a day, mostly from central and southern Virginia. They’re mostly desperate. They’re panicked,” said Schriefer.
Many clinics are also reporting out-of-state teens coming in with advanced stages of pregnancy, due to lapsed time while trying to figure out how to obtain an abortion without telling their parents.
Twenty-nine states have passed laws requiring parental consent or notification before a teenager can obtain an abortion. Simon Heller, a lawyer with the pro-choice group Center for Reproductive Law and Policy in New York, said “It just means that the Virginia General Assembly has accomplished its true purpose, which is not to benefit young women but to stop them from getting abortions in Virginia.”