Ind. Senate Judiciary Committee passes measure to strengthen parental consent law

By Dave Andrusko

Indiana State Sen Erin Houchin

Indiana State Sen Erin Houchin

On Wednesday Indiana’s Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 404 on a vote of 6-4. SB 404 strengthens current Indiana parental consent provisions when a minor daughter seeks an abortion.

“Indiana law currently requires those younger than 18 to get permission from at least one parent before an abortion,” the Journal Gazette’s Niki Kelly reported. “But if they can’t or don’t want to, they can seek a waiver of that requirement from a judge, who considers whether the girl is mature enough to make the decision. In those cases, parents are not currently notified.”

Parents would be notified, under SB 404, authored by state Sen. Erin Houchin. “Senate Bill 404 strengthens parental consent provisions already on the books if their minor daughter seeks an abortion,” said Sue Swayze Liebel, Vice President of Public Affairs for Indiana Right to Life. “Parents and legal guardians have a right to be involved in major decisions affecting their child’s health and future. “

In addition, according to Indiana Right to Life, “This bill gives parents and legal guardians a civil recourse if someone fraudulently poses as a parent in order for a minor girl to get an abortion. It also gives parents notice if their daughter seeks a judicial bypass hearing in order to get an abortion without their consent.”

Moreover, SB 404 also changes the requirement to report underage abortions to the Indiana State Department of Health and Indiana Department of Child Services from the current law of “less than 14 years of age” to minor girls “less than 16 years of age.”

Finally, it provides women information and help if they are being coerced into an abortion or sexually trafficked.

“Committee members heard emotional testimony about a lack of recourse for parents if they discover another adult helped their minor daughter obtain an abortion,” Liebel added. “SB 404 does not prohibit trusted adults from sharing information about abortion, parenting or adoption. Rather, it ensures parents are involved in the life-changing decision when their minor daughter seeks an abortion.”