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House panel OKs bill outlawing transport of minors for abortions

WASHINGTON (BP)–The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved June 23 a bill seeking to protect the rights of parents when their underage, pregnant daughters are considering abortion.
The committee passed in a party-line vote, 16-13, with Republicans in the majority, the Child Custody Protection Act. The bill, H.R. 1218, would make it a crime for an adult to transport a minor to another state for an abortion without the parents’ involvement when the state in which the girl lives requires either parental notification or consent before such a procedure.
The bill may reach the House floor before the July 4 recess.
The legislation “will put an end to the exploitation of young, immature, vulnerable girls,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R.-Fla., in a prepared statement. “Young girls face complications and perhaps even death from botched abortions their parents never knew about.”
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is among numerous pro-life organizations supporting the legislation.
Democrats offered 10 amendments before the final committee vote, but all failed. Among those were attempts to expand those who could transport minors for abortions to include grandparents, cousins and religious leaders, a congressional staff member said.
A person violating the law could be fined and/or imprisoned for a maximum of a year. The legislation would permit parents to sue those who violate the law.
The House adopted the Child Custody Protection Act in a 276-150 vote last year. It died in the Senate, however, when supporters fell six votes short of the 60 needed to end delaying tactics employed by opponents near the close of the session.
Last year, the White House signaled its opposition to the bill unless changes were made. The White House said the bill would need at least to exclude “close family members” — such as grandmothers, aunts and siblings — from liability before it would receive President Clinton’s support.
More than 20 states have laws in effect requiring the notification or consent of at least one parent or guardian, or authorization by a judge, before a minor can have an abortion.
Some studies have shown a majority of minors who become pregnant are impregnated by men 18 or older. 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, supporters of the legislation said.
Opponents of the bill have argued in part it will drive girls to obtain unsafe abortions rather than inform their parents or seek a judicial bypass.

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