By Gary Morton, Staff reporter
DOVER — About 70 people traveled to Dover on Tuesday to show their support for legislation that would require a minor under age 18 to receive parental permission before undergoing an abortion. They delivered 500 roses to members of the Delaware House of Representatives along with the names of 1,800 people who joined in prayer to support the legislation.
The lobbying followed a gathering in Legislative Hall that coincided with the filing of House Bill 80, the parental consent legislation. Rep. Greg Lavelle (R-Sharpley), a co-sponsor of the bill with Sen. Robert Venables (D-Laurel), called it “commonsense legislation” that would change the current parental notification requirement to parental consent.
The gathering included a prayer service led by pastors of African American churches who act as an advisory group to A Rose and A Prayer, a grassroots organization that seeks to reduce the number of abortions in Delaware.
Deacon Bob Cousar of St. Joseph’s Church on French Street, a member of the advisory group, and Pat Radell of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, both of Wilmington, weren’t able to see their representative, Stephanie Bolden (D-Wilmington), because legislators were in session when the rally ended and then went immediately into party caucuses.
“It’s a shame to come all the way down here and then not be able to speak to our representative in person, but I understand that they are busy,” Cousar said after the two left roses and an information packet for Bolden. But, he added, “They know we were here, and they know why we were here.”
Radell, the mother of three and grandmother of six, said parental notification is needed because often, “young people don’t know what they are getting into. [Abortion] is presented as an easy, instant answer.”
Radell and Cousar were lobbying in Dover for the first time. Cousar was especially impressed with the list of names of Bolden’s constituents who participated in an April 3-5 prayer vigil on behalf of the bill. “There’s nothing like the power of prayer,” he said.
Deacon Ken Pulliam of St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington also made his first lobbying effort and hoped to connect with Rep. Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear). He preached on abortion as part of the black clergy group’s “End the Silence” campaign to spotlight the effects of abortion on the black community. As he became involved, he said, he came to realize that “no longer can we keep this issue in the shadows.”
On a related issue, Venables last week introduced a bill that would require the licensing and inspection of abortion clinics in Delaware. His bill specifically calls for inspection of abortion clinics, while earlier legislation by Rep. Bryon Short does not directly name abortion clinics and leaves much of the requirements to the discretion of the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services. Short’s bill passed the House. Both Short’s and Venable’s bills are in the Senate Health and Social Services Committee.
The proposed legislation comes in response to recent news reports in which Dr. Kermit Gosnell — a Philadelphia abortion doctor who also practiced at Atlantic Women’s Medical Services in Wilmington — faces multiple murder charges in Pennsylvania in connection with the reported death of one woman, as well as the late-term abortion deaths of seven newborn babies.