WASHINGTON (BP)–Legislation protecting parental rights when an underage, pregnant girl is considering abortion in another state has been reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Child Custody Protection Act would make it a crime for an adult to transport a minor to another state for an abortion without a parent’s involvement when the state in which the girl lives requires either parental notification or consent before such a procedure. The bill would enable parents to sue those who violate the law.
The House easily adopted the bill in 1998 and 1999, but the measure died in the Senate both times. In both years, the White House refused to endorse the legislation as passed by the House. Supporters of the bill are hopeful President Bush will back the measure and increase the likelihood of congressional adoption.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is one of many pro-life organizations supporting the bill.
Twenty-four states have laws in effect that require the notification or consent of at least one parent or guardian, or authorization by a judge, before a minor can have an abortion, according to the National Right to Life Committee.
Some studies have shown a majority of minors who become pregnant are impregnated by men 18 or older. Supporters of the Child Custody Protection Act say such a man has an incentive to keep the pregnancy hidden by means of a secret abortion, since he is vulnerable to a statutory rape charge.
In the best-known example of such an incident, a Pennsylvania eighth-grader was secretly transported to New York in 1995 for an abortion by the stepmother of the 18-year-old man who impregnated her. Such occurrences may not be uncommon. In 1995, abortion-rights lawyer Kathryn Kolbert of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Law and Policy said thousands of adults are helping minors travel from states with parental involvement laws to obtain abortions, according to a news report.
Opponents of the bill have argued in part it will cause girls to obtain unsafe abortions in order to avoid informing their parents or seeking a judicial bypass.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R.-Fla., is the chief House sponsor, as she was in the last two congressional sessions.