'Interstate abortions' for minors targeted in bill
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Members of Congress again are seeking to protect the rights of parents and the safety of their daughters when it comes to out-of-state abortions on underage girls.
Introduced Feb. 14 in both the Senate and House of Representatives, legislation known as the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA) would:
-- Prohibit the transportation of a minor to another state for an abortion to avoid a parental involvement law in her home state;
-- Require an abortion provider to notify parents at least 24 hours before performing an abortion on a minor girl from another state.
The legislation has a long and unsuccessful history. First introduced in 1998, the bill typically has gained passage in the House without approval in the Senate during congressional sessions. In 2006, versions of the measure survived both houses. Senate Democrats, however, blocked passage of a later House version even though it included the language their chamber earlier had approved.
Barring an unexpected development, the bill probably won't pass both chambers. The House, controlled by Republicans, appears to have an easy majority for passage, but the Senate, with Democrats in the majority, appears unlikely to approve the bill.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) again endorsed CIANA.
"Remarkably, in many school districts, nurses must first obtain parental consent before dispensing an aspirin to a young girl, yet that same young girl could obtain an abortion without parental knowledge," ERLC President Richard Land wrote in a Feb. 14 letter to the Senate and House sponsors of the legislation. "By requiring parental notification for out-of-state minors seeking an abortion and banning the evasion of state parental involvement laws, common sense is brought back into the policy arena."
Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Republicans from Florida, introduced the latest versions. The Senate bill, S. 369, has 22 cosponsors in the 100-member chamber, while the House version, H.R. 732, has 74 cosponsors out of 435 representatives.
Rubio said Congress must help states enforce their parental notification and consent laws. "Under current law, minors are subject to the exploitation and safety risks that often come from an overzealous interstate abortion industry," he said in a written statement.
Reports surface periodically of minors traveling from or being transported from states with parental involvement laws to neighboring states that have no such laws in order to undergo abortions. Abortion clinics in states without parental consent or notification requirements sometimes advertise their services in adjacent states that have such laws.
Studies have shown men 18 or older are the fathers of the unborn babies of a majority of pregnant minors. The men, or their family members, sometimes take the minors across state lines to obtain abortions. Supporters of the proposals to ban such activities argue that these men have an incentive to keep the pregnancy hidden by means of secret abortions, since they are vulnerable to statutory rape charges.
There are 30 states that have effective parental involvement laws that are not being blocked by courts, according to the National Right to Life Committee.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).