Senate Debates Bill Backing Parental Involvement on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 7, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Debates Bill Backing Parental Involvement on Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 7, 2004

Washington, DC ( — A Senate committee on Friday debated legislation that would back state laws allowing parents to be involved when their teenage daughter is considering an abortion.

The Child Custody Protection Act (S. 851 / H.R.1755) would make it a crime for someone other than a parent or guardian to transport an underage girl across state lines. Backers of the bill say it will help stop secret abortions that violate a young woman’s home state’s laws requiring parental notification or consent prior to an abortion.

Teenager Crystal Lane of Pennsylvania and her mother Joyce Farley testified in favor of the legislation.

In 1998, Crystal was 12 years old and became pregnant after having sex with an 18 year-old man. The man’s mother, Rosa Hartford, took Crystal (who had turned 13) on a 60-mile trip to an abortion facility in New York.

The trip was taken on a school day and without Farley’s knowledge.

At the abortion facility, Hartford told staff that she was Crystal’s stepmother. When she learned the state police had been contacted about Crystal’s disappearance from school, Hartford confessed.

Hartford was sentenced to one year’s probation, 150 hours of community service, and the prosecution costs.

Then the New York-based Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, a pro-abortion law firm, got involved and appealed Hartford’s conviction.

The firm argued that Hartford did nothing illegal and merely helped Crystal exercise her legal right to an abortion. "The young woman’s constitutional right to choose abortion outweighs any interest her parents have in denying her the assistance of another adult to effectuate her decision," the firm wrote in a brief in the case.

NARAL and Planned Parenthood also weighed in on the case in favor of Hartford.

But a Pennsylvania trial court and a state appeals court rejected the argument saying Crystal could have had an emergency abortion, if necessary and without parental involvement, through the judicial waiver process in Pennsylvania’s parental involvement law.

CRLP has acknowledged that there are "thousands" of other cases like Crystal’s. The Child Custody Protection Act would make sure state laws are enforced in these cases as it was in Pennsylvania.

But abortion advocates, as expected, oppose the bill, sarcastically dubbing it the "Teen Endangerment Act."

"This dangerous piece of legislation, if enacted, would seriously threaten the health and welfare of the young women of America," said Laura W. Murphy of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a press statement. "At a time when they need support and assistance the most, this measure seeks to punish teenagers. Those adults that seek to help them should not be made into criminals."

However, pro-life groups say it is the abortion businesses that the ACLU supports who are placing teenage girls in danger.

Abortion facilities located in states with no parental involvement laws frequently advertise in neighboring states that have them. The ads tell teenagers that no parental involvement is necessary if they cross the state border.

Abortion businesses and pro-abortion organizations frequently arrange for someone to drive teen girls to the out-of-state abortion facilities.

But the parents are left to pay for medical bills when an abortion has complications and to console their daughters when the abortion causes emotional and psychological trauma.

"The taking of an underage girl out of state for an abortion by someone who may have no knowledge of her prior medical or psychological history poses many dangers which could be avoided through involvement of her parents," says the National Right to Life Committee, which supports the pro-life bill.

"Once the girl returns home, she may suffer physical complications from the abortion. If the parents are aware that their daughter has had an abortion, their knowledge may prove key to ensuring that the young girl receives treatment in a timely fashion with the onset of symptoms," the group adds.

Twenty-four states currently have some sort of parental involvement law on abortion.