Republican Congressman Introduces Bill to Stop Taking Teens to Other States for Secret Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 4, 2023   |   10:37AM   |   Washington, DC

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A Republican congressman has introduced an important bill to stop taking teen girls to other states for secret abortions without their parents knowing. The measure follows the Idaho legislature passing a similar bill that would stop the trafficking of teenage girls to other states for secret abortions without their parents’ knowledge or consent.\

Republican State Sen. Scott Herndon supported the bill and said, “Neither a parent nor a guardian should be allowed protection from trafficking a minor for purposes of an abortion outside the state.” That’s the motive behind the federal legislation.

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-LA has introduced H.R. 792, the Child Interstate Abortion Act (CIANA), which would make it a federal crime to take a teen girl across state lines in avoidance of her home state parental involvement laws. Like the Idaho bill, CIANA also gives the child’s parents the right to sue if their parental rights are violated. It also includes exceptions for emergency situations in which an abortion is deemed necessary to save a mother’s life.

“This bill rights a number of wrongs,” CatholicVote Director of Government Affairs Tom McClusky said of Johnson’s bill. “The whole point of Dobbs was to put the power to regulate abortion back in the hands of the people – and Rep. Johnson’s bill reaffirms that decision.”

“Abortion has been used to cover up abuse and trafficking of young girls,” McClusky continued. “CIANA protects those young girls targeted by bringing in parents to the decision.This bill both affirms parents’ rights and the right that states like Idaho have to pass abortion trafficking legislation into law. CatholicVote will be pushing for a vote in the House of Representatives. This should be a top priority for Republicans.”

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Abortion activists are already attacking the measure. HuffPost reporter Alanna Vaglanos claimed that these laws, as well as the abortion trafficking bill, violate the U.S. Constitution.

“Similar to other abortion restrictions, the legality of the bill is suspect” because it touches on interstate travel, Vaglanos writes.

Some abortion advocates are attempting to use Dobbs to justify their opposition to the measures. But, while Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted in his concurring opinion in Dobbs vs. Jackson that all American citizens enjoy a constitutional right to interstate travel, regardless of the reason for crossing state lines, his opinion did not address whether it’s okay to take teen girls to other states for secret abortions without any parental involvement.

The Idaho bill’s House sponsors, Rep. Barbara Ehardt and Rep. Kevin Andrus led the bill through the state House process.

“We are only looking to continue to protect our children and our parental rights,” Ehardt said about the measure. Since abortion is illegal in Idaho, “it would be taking that child across the border, and if that happens without the permission of the parent, that’s where we’ll be able to hold accountable those that would subvert a parent’s right.”

The legislation would create a crime called “abortion trafficking”, defined in the bill as an instance where “adult who, with the intent to conceal an abortion from the parents or guardian of a pregnant, unemancipated minor, either procures an abortion … or obtains an abortion-inducing drug” for the minor.

“Recruiting, [harbouring], or transporting the pregnant minor within this state commits the crime of abortion trafficking,” the bill adds. While the legislation doesn’t say anything about crossing state lines, driving a minor from anywhere within Idaho up to the border would be criminalized.

Anyone guilty of trafficking a teenager for an out of state abortion would face 2-5 years in prison.

This law is modeled on a portion of National Right to Life’s post-Dobbs model law to protect unborn children. If signed by the governor, this would be the second law of its kind (Missouri being the first), a law that protects minors and parental rights from the trafficking of a pregnant minor within the state of Idaho for the purpose of obtaining an abortion without the parents’ knowledge.

“HB 242 protects parents’ rights to be involved in their minor daughter’s decision,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “No minor daughter should be without her parents’ guidance and HB 242 would protect the right of parents.”

The pro-life group Stanton Health Care, which helps pregnant women, fully supports the bill.

“With abortions virtually banned in Idaho, Planned Parenthood and other organizations are actively coaching and luring women across state lines for abortions. This is abortion trafficking,” Linda Thomas, Director of Community Outreach, told LifeNews.

“The law will protect a pregnant minor from the abuse of abortion trafficking by someone who is not their parent. The law will allow for prosecution of an adult who participates in abortion trafficking. The adult(s) may be punished by imprisonment for no less than two years and no more than five years,” she added. “The abortion industry is aggressive and relentless in pushing abortion on vulnerable women…and even minor children! We must be even more diligent and resolved in our efforts to provide protection and life-honoring care.”

Right to Life of Idaho supports the bill and told LifeNews, “We are aware of at least one verified Idaho case of a pregnant minor being taken out of state for an abortion without her parent’s knowledge or consent. In a related issue, records indicate that there were at least 9 reported cases of minors involved in human trafficking for sex in Idaho in 2021 alone. These are just the reported cases. If a minor being trafficked for sex becomes pregnant that is considered a liability for the person(s) trafficking her. Abortion trafficking then becomes the only option for them.”