Senate Backs Bill Protecting Teens on Abortion, Upholds Parental Involvement

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 25, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Backs Bill Protecting Teens on Abortion, Upholds Parental Involvement Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 25, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The Senate voted 65-34 to approve a measure that would help uphold state parental notification and consent laws that allow parents to help their teenage daughters avoid abortions. The Child Custody Protection Act makes it a crime for anyone other than a teenage girl’s parents to take her out of state for an abortion.

Boyfriends, their parents or abortion facility staff have made it a practice of taking teens to other states for secret abortions.

Currently, abortion businesses located in cities that neighbor states with parental involvement laws advertise that abortions can be done without parental knowledge. But the bill would help stop that practice.

"In most schools across the country our children cannot go on a field trip, take part in school activities or participate in sex education without a signed permission slip. An underage child cannot even receive mild medication, such as aspirin, unless the school nurse has a signed release form," pro-life Sen. John Ensign, who is the lead sponsor of the bill, explained.

"Nothing, however, prevents this same child from being taken across state lines, in direct disobedience of state laws, for the purpose of undergoing a life-altering abortion,” Ensign, a Republican from Nevada, said during remarks on the Senate floor.

But pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, claimed the bill "has so many problems and I can’t even begin to count them."

She accused pro-life lawmakers of proposing a measure that would protect those who victimize young women through rape or incest by allowing rapist fathers to sign off on their daughter’s abortion.

However, the Senate adopted an amendment that Boxer and Ensign co-sponsored addressing that concern.

Beforehand, Ensign said abortion advocates appeared to be more concerned with protecting a young woman’s access to abortion than making sure her rapist was prosecuted.

"If it’s a grandparent or a clergy or a friend, they should be calling the authorities" to report the rape or incest so the perpetrator can be prosecuted, Ensign said.

"Otherwise all they’re doing is taking her across state lines for an abortion and taking her and putting her back into the same harmful situation she was in before," he explained.

Sen. Rick Santorum, a pro-life Pennsylvania Republican, agreed.

"With this statute, the court can get involved and remove the child from the home and remove her from that dangerous situation. Why is an abortion a benefit to the child?" he asked.

Because the Senate approved the amendment dealing with rape and incest, which makes its measure different from the House version, it must go to a conference committee to iron out a final bill before the measure can head to the president.

However pro-abortion Sen. Dick Durbin objected to appointing Senate conferees, which is normally a routine process. As a result, the Senate may be forced to vote on a motion to appoint conferees.

The House has repeatedly approved the Child Custody Protection Act — most recently passing it by a strongly bipartisan 270-157 vote in April 2005. But, the Senate has never voted for the bill because pro-abortion lawmakers, mostly Democrats, have held it up.

The last time the Senate attempted to vote on the measure, in 1998, pro-life lawmakers fell a handful of votes short of the 60 they needed to stop debate and vote.

Currently, 22 states have parental consent laws in effect that require a parent to sign off on a teen’s abortion before it can be done. Another seven states have notification laws in place that require abortion facilities to notify a parent of a potential abortion beforehand.

President Bush strongly supports the pro-life legislation, saying the bill "would protect the health and safety of minors by ensuring that valid and constitutional State parental involvement laws are not circumvented."

The president said the bill was "consistent" with his view that "parents’ efforts to be involved in their children’s lives should be protected and the widespread belief among authorities in the field that the parents of pregnant minors are best suited to provide them with counsel, guidance, and support.”

Marcia Carroll, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, knows the dangers of taking teens to another state for a secret abortion. She shared her story with a Congressional committee in March 2005.

Carroll said the CCPA bill would have prevented the parents of her daughter’s boyfriend from taking her daughter to a New Jersey facility for an abortion without her knowledge.

Once at the abortion business, the boyfriend’s family refused to take Carroll’s daughter home to Pennsylvania until she had the abortion.

"No one should be able to circumvent state laws by performing an abortion in another state on a minor daughter without parental consent," she told the House Subcommittee on the Constitution.

Polls show Americans strongly support parental involvement laws on abortion.

In a national poll of 1,000 adults conducted in April 2005 by The Polling Company, 82 percent disagreed (including 75% who strongly disagreed and 7% who somewhat disagreed) that "a person should be able to take a minor girl across state lines to obtain an abortion without her parents’ knowledge."

Just 15 percent agreed that non-parents should be able to take teens to other states for an abortion without informing her parents.

An April 2005 Fox News Poll also found that Americans agreed by a 78-17 percentage margin that parents should be notified about a minor’s abortion. A March Quinnipiac University Poll found a 75-18 percent support for parental notification and a January 2003 CNN/Gallup poll found a 73-24 percent split in favor of parental consent.