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Interstate transport of minors for abortions receives scrutiny

WASHINGTON (BP)–A Pennsylvania eighth-grader’s clandestine trip to New York to abort her baby is helping advance new legislation protecting parents’ rights and responsibilities in abortion decisions.
Joyce Farley, the mother of Crystal Lane, who was taken for an abortion across the state line in 1995 by the stepmother of the 18-year-old man who had impregnated her, testified before two congressional panels in support of the Child Custody Protection Act.
The bill would make it an offense 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. A person violating the law could be fined and/or be imprisoned for a maximum of a year.
Hearings were held in the Senate Judiciary Committee May 20 and the Constitution Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee May 21. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich have both said they plan floor votes this summer on the legislation.
Without Farley’s knowledge, Crystal was taken by Rosa Hartford and a friend to an abortion clinic in Binghamton, N.Y. While Pennsylvania has a law requiring consent by either a parent, legal guardian or judge before a minor may receive an abortion, New York does not. Hartford paid for the abortion with money given her by her stepson, Michael Kilmer, the father of the child.
In an attempt to keep the abortion secret, Hartford dropped Crystal, barely 13 years of age, off at a town 30 miles from her home, Farley said in her written testimony. Farley, however, had contacted the state police, and Crystal and she were reunited in time for her to obtain medical care for her daughter. Crystal had undergone an incomplete abortion and was suffering severe pain and bleeding, Farley testified.
Kilmer was convicted of statutory rape, and Hartford was found guilty of interference with the custody of a minor. Her conviction was overturned later, however.
In her written testimony, Farley said she has often been discouraged about the government’s failure to protect children.
“I have asked myself, ‘How could a medical procedure like abortion be more protected in this nation than our own children?’ I don’t care what your views on abortion are — just don’t let them interfere with the protection of a child,” Farley said.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R.-Fla., chief House sponsor, told the Senate committee the bill does not encroach upon the 1973 Supreme Court decision granting abortion rights.
“Roe v. Wade legalized abortion,” she said in written testimony. “But Roe v. Wade does not grant a stranger the right to make decisions for our children; Roe v. Wade does not permit even the most pro-abortion advocate to procure secret abortions for minors, and, finally, Roe v. Wade does not legalize the extermination of parental rights.
“Pro-abortionists scream at us about every woman’s right to an abortion; about how it is a woman’s right to make a choice, and how it is a woman, and only a woman, who has rights over her own body.
“In response to that, I say, ‘Yes, it is . . . all about women’s rights,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “The right of every mother in this nation to protect her child from the biased and selfish hand of a stranger. The right of every mother to protect her relationship between herself and her daughter. The right of every mother to protect a right that only she and the girl’s father possess — the right to be a mother and father.”
Parents normally must give permission for their teenage children to participate in far less dangerous activities, including taking aspirin at school and leaving school property for a field trip, Ros-Lehtinen said.
Rep. Nita Lowey, D.-N.Y., an abortion rights advocate, and Renee Jenkins, a representative of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, were among those who testified against the bill. In her written testimony, Lowey warned some adolescent girls who do not have “loving parents” will have “dangerous back-alley abortions” or take their lives. Jenkins, a pediatrician, advocated confidentiality for minors.
Will Dodson of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which supports the bill, said, “Any member of Congress who has a daughter has to be sympathetic to the intent of this act.
“The problem that this act seeks to correct goes to the heart of what many millions of Americans perceive as a great threat to the structure of our society. That is, we have to decide as a society whether the institution of the family has greater value than other relationships. Is the relationship between parent and child greater than the relationship between the state and the child or Planned Parenthood and the child?” said Dodson, the ERLC’s director of government relations.
Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest abortion provider through its chain of clinics, the National Abortion Federation and the ACLU are working against the legislation.
The bill is S. 1645 in the Senate and H.R. 3682 in the House of Representatives. Sen. Spencer Abraham, R.-Mich., is the chief sponsor in the Senate.