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Abortion transport bill moves forward in House

WASHINGTON (BP) — A bill that would criminalize transporting a minor across state lines in certain situations with the intent of obtaining an abortion has advanced in the House of Representatives.

With a 20-13 party-line vote, the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee passed March 27 the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA). Now CIANA will move from the committee to the full House.

CIANA would do two things. It would:

— ban a person from transporting a minor from a state that has parental notification laws to one that does not, for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.

— make abortion providers in neighboring states without notification laws notify parents 24 hours before performing an abortion procedure on their underage daughter.

“CIANA is a very reasonable measure,” Rep. Trent Franks, R.-Ariz., said before the committee vote.

“I think the reasonable thing to do is to err on the side of life,” Rep. Steve Chabot, R.-Ohio, said to the other committee members.

Even though the bill sounded reasonable to Republicans, Democrats offered 14 amendments attempting to change CIANA. The amendments mostly tried to add to the number of people the minor may confide in, such as grandparents, older siblings, aunts, uncles or members of the clergy who could help the minor without breaking the law. In the end, the committee rejected every amendment.

“Are we going to make those people criminals — the grandmother, an older sister, an older brother — who try and help the situation because they know that the minor is pregnant and if they go to the parents they will react violently, abusively or in some way?” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D.-N.Y., said.

Franks responded to the amendments by offering the example of an organ donor. “If someone took your daughter, your 14-year-old daughter, across state lines to donate a kidney, a noble thing, but they did not ask your permission about it, that should outrage” the Democrats on the other side of the aisle and parents, he said.

Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land wrote March 26 to the committee’s chairman and ranking member, urging passage of CIANA.

“We find it unconscionable that minors are allowed to evade their home state’s parental involvement laws,” said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Further, we are greatly alarmed that in many cases parents, who are responsible for protecting and providing for their children, are not even notified that their underage daughters will receive an abortion.”

The history of the bill, which has continued to be reintroduced since 1998, shows that it normally passes the House but not the Senate. The lone exception came when a conference committee was held in 2006 to consider two versions of the legislation that were approved by the chambers, but the panel could not agree on a version for final passage. The bill has never made it through the entire process to the president’s desk.
Mark Norton is an intern with the Washington bureau of Baptist Press.

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