State lawmakers revise abortion bill after criticism

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - After facing criticism that a bill purporting to mandate parental notification for minors seeking abortions would also place long-existing abortion rights in the state at risk, Republican lawmakers on Monday introduced revisions narrowing the bill's scope.

In its original form, Senate Bill 5156 would have repealed laws passed by voter initiative in 1991 codifying in state law that women have the right to seek abortions and that doctors have the right to perform them.

By extension, the bill would have made doctors performing abortions in the state guilty of a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, in the event that federal laws allowing abortion are reversed.

In the new version, those repeals of existing law are removed.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, a bill sponsor, said the original language was due to an oversight by the state's code reviser.

Advocates supporting the measure said it was not meant to curb abortion rights.

"It was not the intention of this bill to outlaw abortion," said Peggy O'Ban, spokeswoman for Human Life of Washington, an anti-abortion group.

Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, expressed skepticism that the language repealing existing law included in the original bill was the fault of the code reviser.

"That seems like a pretty big drafting error to me," Rose said.