Thursday, January 13, 2005

Who? What? Where? When? Why?

Update: To understand the real reason for HB 1807 read this discussion.

Virginia: the state that keeps on giving ... me a headache.

Meet Delegate Robert G. Marshall and his whimsical HB 1807:

§ 18.2-63.2. Providing birth control to minor in certain circumstances; penalty.

If any person knows or has reason to believe that a minor is engaging in sexual relations with a person three years or more older than the minor and such person provides the minor with a contraceptive or contraceptive device, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

I don't even know where to begin with this bill. It doesn't make sense. The effect of withholding proper medical care from sexually active minors is an increase in the number of minors who become pregnant, suffer life-long health problems, or die as a result of a pregnancy, and/or contract a sexually transmitted infection. Surely this can't be the bill's intent.

Since statutory rape is illegal in Virginia, for medical personnel there is a duty to report. This duty to report is independent of providing contraception. I don't know what the reporting requirements for non-medical people are, but I'd offer an educated guess that parents providing birth control to their minor children also report statutory rape. In this context, what does providing contraception have to do with anything? I'm missing something here. So, let's investigate a bit.

HB 1807 will apply to both minors having sex with other minors, as well as adults having sex with minors [a minor ... engaging in sexual relations with a person three years or more older than the minor]. So we need to know what are the current laws (pdf) about sex with minors?

  • Currently, providing another with a contraceptive or contraceptive device is not illegal in Virginia, regardless of the individual's age.

  • It is ... a Class 6 felony in Virginia to have intercourse with a consenting victim age 13 or 14 when the accused is a minor is three years or older than the victim (§ 18.2-63).

    Aha, so we learn that minors having sex with minors is already illegal in Virginia.

    An aside: The punishment for a Class 6 felony is imprisonment for one to five years or jail for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500, either or both.

    You might be interested to know that another offense considered a Class 6 felony in Virginia is an attempt to commit aggravated sexual battery. Also, so are dousing someone in acid, or setting them on fire (as long as it isn't done maliciously), and physically defiling a dead human body. And, if HB 1807 passes, so will providing birth control to some sexually active minors.

    At least you'll be relieved to know that it's not just health care professionals, parents, store clerks, and a minor's friends who are to be made felons in Virginia. Unmarried adults who have sex, aka fornicators, are also to be punished: Any person, not being married, who voluntarily shall have sexual intercourse with any other person, shall be guilty of fornication, punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor. [You know, there are ways to neutralize a person's libido. Virginia legislators, call me!]

    Back to current laws. We also learn that during 2002 and 2003:

    [T]here were 46 offenders (minors at least three years older than the
    victim) who were convicted under § 18.2-63. The largest portion of these offenders (44%) were sentenced to local-responsible (jail) time, but over one-third (39%) were sentenced to state responsible (prison) time. The offenders who were sentenced to prison received a median sentence of two years incarceration.

  • [C]arnal knowledge of a consenting 13 or 14 year old is raised to a Class 4 felony when to accused is an adult. Under § 18.2-371(ii), consensual intercourse with a minor age 15 or older is a Class 1 misdemeanor when the accused is not the parent.

    As we'd expect, statutory rape is also already illegal in Virginia. [I don't have time to research the parent thing, but I'd really like to believe that if the adult is the parent, there will still be a punishment.] As for the number of cases, during 2003 and 2004:

    ...33 offenders held pre- or post-trial in jail were convicted under this statute during the two-year period. All 33 offenders received local responsible (jail) time, with a median sentence just under three months.

    Another aside: The median sentence for the minor offenders is two years incarceration, while that for the adult offenders is just under three months. Why?

    So, Virginia already has laws dealing with sexual intercourse with a minor. Also, the yearly number of cases (~23 minor offenders, and ~11 adults)* does not appear to be overwhelming the system. How would not providing adequate medical care to sexually active minors (HB 1807) fit in here and augment the existing laws?

    *Not the actual number because I didn't have the raw data.

    (via Democracy for Virginia)

    Update: Virginia's fornication law has been struck down.(via Instapundit)


    At 12:09 AM, Blogger Rivki said...

    I just wrote to my Senator and Delegate (I live in Virginia) asking them to oppose this bill - actually I just replied to the replies they sent me after I wrote about Cosgrove's bill. It's nice to actually have a say in this sort of thing (well, at least an illusion of a say - both my senator and delegate replied to me an a day or two which was nice). Thanks for posting the link to the Bill Tracking - I had heard about the gist of the bill last week but since I didn't know the number I could read it for myself. That's what I love about blogs - I knew someone would come through for me. Thanks.


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