A Virginia Senate committee rejected today the annual attempt by abortion foes to require pregnant teen-agers to get consent from either their parents or a judge before having an abortion.
After antiabortion and prochoice groups each produced a physician, a minister and a mother to support their views, the committee voted 10 to 4, without discussion, against the bill. The vote was greeted by applause from about half of the audience in the crowded hearing room, while it provoked anger and tears from others.
Sen. Thomas J. Michie Jr. (D-Albemarle), who made the motion that ended the antiabortion effort in the legislature for this year, told proponents, "I realize how you feel, how difficult this is, but this . . . will not encourage parental involvement."
Michie said that in Massachusetts, where such a law is in force, "it did not stop a single abortion." He said judges there approved all but six of 2,000 requests for abortions by teen-agers, and that four of the denials were overturned on appeal. The remaining two girls, Michie said, went out of state for abortions.
Brian Regrut, chairman of the Richmond chapter of the Virginia Society for Human Life, vowed to return next year. "We know parents in Virginia support us," he said.
Regrut singled out Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) for blame. He said Saslaw was responsible for the bill being assigned to the Education and Health Committee, whose members were hostile to the proposal, instead of to the supportive Courts of Justice Committee, which approved a similar proposal last year that went on to win Senate passage before being killed in the House.
Saslaw, an outspoken opponent of the bill, said, "It's a health issue, not a judicial one." But he said "the clerk makes the assignments. I had nothing to do with it." Saslaw said the chairmen of both the education and courts committees agreed with the decision.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Virgil H. Goode Jr. (D-Franklin), urged the committee to "take a vote for the family." He said that "if my 15-year-old daughter needs an operation on her arm, parental consent is required. However, she can get an abortion, without regard to her age or emotional maturity, without consulting with anyone."
The Rev. Steve Parson of the Richmond Christian Center, urged passage to "put the law on the side of the family . . . . Allow parents to be parents, including restraining [their daughters] if need be."
Parson said if children believe they don't have to obey their parents, they are likely to not care what police or their teachers say.
An opponent, the Rev. Robert Vaughan of the Beverley Hills Community United Methodist Church in Alexandria, said two-thirds of pregnant teen-agers already involve their parents. While backers of the bill "hope to improve family life, for many [pregnant girls], parental involvement would be destructive." Those parents, he said, "do not become caring by legislative action."