Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Bill would allow no-waiting-period sterilization
In Virginia, if you’ve got children and don’t want any more, getting snipped or having your tubes tied is no problem, legally.
But if you’ve never had or adopted a child, state law requires a 30-day wait before you can have a sterilization procedure.
The House of Delegates will vote tomorrow on a bill that would eliminate the wait, but it came up for some debate today.
Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, the bill’s sponsor, said the state shouldn’t be mandating a waiting period upon a grown adult’s choice based solely on whether that person has had or adopted a child or not.
Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, disagreed.
“What is the burden on waiting 30 days, if you’re 18 years old, to permanently abolish your ability to have children? At 18 do we think the same as we do at 30? What’s wrong with a 30 day wait?,” Marshall asked McClellan. ”This was put in there presumably to give pause to an individual who may be thinking short term.”
McClellan said that isn’t the government’s problem.
“If you are 18 years of age you are an adult, capable of making decisions and living with the consequences of those decisions,” she said.
Marshall also questioned what would happen if someone on public health assistance got a sterilization procedure later wanted it reversed — would that be paid for with public money as well? He asked whether the federal Affordable Care Act’s requirements for birth control coverage will require private businesses to cover sterilization. He also said it could further exploitation of human trafficking victims, by making it quick for traffickers to have victims sterilized so they wouldn’t get pregnant.
McClellan said most victims of human trafficking are under age 18, so the bill eliminating the waiting period wouldn’t apply to them anyway.
The House advanced the bill on a voice vote, and will take a recorded vote on it Friday.