Abortion foes scored a victory Thursday in their uphill fight for a controversial bill that would require pregnant minors to get parental consent or court approval before obtaining an abortion.
After an intensive two-month lobbying campaign, anti-abortion activists succeeded in securing from Assembly Democratic leaders a promise to let the Senate-passed bill by Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier) be considered by the full Assembly Judiciary Committee next month.
The measure, similar versions of which have failed in recent years, was considered all but dead in February after first being rejected by a subcommittee of the Assembly Judiciary Committee and later being turned down for either a hearing or vote by the full 10-member committee.
At the time, the Women’s Lobby and other proponents of the bill vowed that despite the setback, they would deluge lawmakers with election-year phone calls and letters in an attempt to revive the measure. They carried through on their promise, said Barbara Alby, president of the Women’s Lobby.
Currently, a pregnant minor may legally receive an abortion without her parents’ permission. The Montoya proposal would require parental consent. But if the parents refuse, the expectant mother could seek a Superior Court order permitting the abortion.
Earlier this week, Assemblyman Philip D. Wyman (R-Tehachapi), who supports the measure, said he would seek to extract the bill from committee and bring it to the Assembly floor for a vote--a very difficult maneuver to accomplish, which last successfully occurred 26 years ago.
However, Wyman abandoned the idea Thursday when an agreement was reached between Judiciary Committee Chairman Elihu M. Harris (D-Oakland) and Montoya. Harris said that after speaking separately with Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) and Montoya, he decided to put the measure before the committee in May.
“Sen. Montoya indicated that all he wanted was a hearing before the full committee, and that if, in fact, the hearing was granted, he would be satisfied,” Harris said.
Harris warned, however, that without “substantive changes,” which “Sen. Montoya has indicated he is not prepared to make,” the measure has little chance for approval.
The agreement averted a potential showdown on the Assembly floor. If Wyman had attempted to withdraw the bill, Brown said he would have demanded his resignation as chairman of the Assembly Constitutional Amendments Committee.
‘Going to Be Given’
Wyman said he understood the consequences of his threatened action but would have pushed ahead anyway if the accord had not not reached. “We wanted to have a full committee hearing, and it’s my understanding that it’s going to be given,” he said.
Harris said Minnesota and Massachusetts, the only states that require parental consent for a minor to obtain an abortion, have not succeeded in reducing teen-age pregnancies.
“We are not encouraged at what’s happening in those states,” he told reporters. “We do not have the models that indicate that simply requiring parental consent is going to have any material impact on the number of teen-age pregnancies. . . . The state shouldn’t have to have a role in all this. The parents ought to be able to resolve it.”