Pro-lifers Prepare for RU-486 Battles

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - Parental notification laws dealing with abortion may face a new challenge, if, as in Virginia, lawmakers seek to restrict the use of the abortion bill RU 486 in the same manner they've been able to restrict surgical abortions.

Virginia is one of 32 states with laws requiring pregnant teenagers to notify their parents or legal guardians of their intent to have abortions, according to the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League Internet site. Lawmakers there have now determined that minor females must also inform their parents of their decision to abort with the use of RU-486.

Abortion advocates are likely to question that decision in court, Family Research Council spokesperson Heather Cirmo said.

"I think there will be a challenge," she said. "The abortion lobby will try to say RU 486 is different, that it's safer than [surgical abortions]. So I think we are going to have some challenges."

A Christian Coalition spokesperson refused to predict whether legal complications would arise from the Virginia decision, but said the parental notification idea was a "positive part of a very negative [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] decision" to approve the pill.

"Considering the health risks to women who use this abortion drug, it would be unconscionable to expose a child to this without parents even knowing about it," Communications Director Bob Dutko said.

Neither NARAL nor the National Organization for Women abortion advocacy groups returned telephone calls for comment.

But Todd Gaziano, senior fellow in legal studies with The Heritage Foundation, acknowledged "a lot more litigation" will come as a result of any state attempts to limit access to the pill.

"It will depend on two things," Gaziano said. "It'll depend on the whim of the judge the case goes before, and it'll depend on how [the state laws restricting minors' access to RU 486] interplays with the existing parental notification laws and the type of judicial bypass mechanisms that exist."

Judicial bypass mechanisms are those mandates that allow a minor female to "bypass" her parents and argue her request for abortion before a judge or other qualified official, Gaziano explained. Most states with parental notification laws restricting minors' access to abortions also have these "bypass mechanism" cases, he said, the outcome of which are determined based on "the luck of the draw" of the presiding judges.

"Some of these judges just make this stuff up as they go," Gaziano said. "They don't really know."

The RU-486 matter will likely tie up the courts at length, he continued, with abortion advocates arguing the pill is safer than surgery and should be afforded easy access and pro-lifers countering just the opposite: the drug is "more dangerous, and it's even more important that parents be notified."