Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Senate approves bill to lift wait for sterilization
A bill that would lift the state-required 30-day waiting period for people wanting to be sterilized has passed the state Senate.
Currently, if you’ve had a child or adopted one, and then decide it’s time to get a vasectomy or have your tubes tied, there’s no waiting period. But if you’ve never had a child, state law makes you wait thirty days.
Del. Jennifer McClellan’s bill would eliminate the wait for adults over 18 years of age. She has 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.
Most of the House and now Senate agreed; the bill has passed the House and passed the Senate by a 36-3 vote.
But Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudoun, objected.
“We’re talking about allowing 18 year-old children end their ability to have children for their lifetimes, and end it on a whim,” Black said. “To reduce that to an off the cuff decision that is going to affect their lives is really, really a shameful thing to do. I’m really disappointed that the bill was introduced…. Eighteen years old, my goodness. At 18 you don’t have a clue about such things, and to eradicate your ability to have sons and daughters and to do it at that age is just a mistake”
Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, a doctor, said sterilization isn’t that casual of a process.
“To say this is done on a whim and off the cuff … this is something that is not taken lightly, and this is something that a person has to go in and see their provider, have a thorough discussion,” Northam said. “It’s not something that someone would just drop into the 7-11 one day and say ‘I think I’m going to have this done’.”
Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Louisa, weighed in on Northam’s side.
“Oftentimes when we discuss in this body questions of life or rights, we talk about what the appropriate role of government is,” Garrett said. “It is not in my opinion the appropriate role of government to tell citizens what they can and cannot do … It is only reasonable that we should allow people to make these decisions themselves in circumstances where a life is not implicated.”
McClellan’s bill will go to the governor.