by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Pro-life lawmakers were forced to hold an unofficial hearing on a bill that will make it a crime for minors to be transported across state lines for an abortion without parental consent after Democratic lawmakers blocked a hearing on the measure.
The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act will make it a federal offense, punishable by a fine or prison term of up to one year, if a physician performs an abortion on an out-of-state minor in violation of parental notification requirements.
This bill is aimed at curtailing the practice of transporting a minor across state lines to circumvent parental consent laws in the minor’s home state.
The bill provides an exception for an abortion necessary to save the life of a minor.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, told Cybercast News Service that he has been trying to get a hearing on the bill to no avail.
Franks said he was “gravely disappointed” that Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) chairman of the subcommittee, did not respond to his repeated requests for a hearing.
However, he remains optimistic. “I have no doubt that eventually we are going to get a vote on this legislation,” Franks said. “It will win.”
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, was more blunt. “We are here today at a Republican forum, rather than at an official Judiciary Committee hearing, because the Democratic majority has refused to address an issue that polls show greatly concern parents nationwide,” Smith said.
The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act was reintroduced in February 2007 by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who was the chief sponsor of the legislation in 2005, when the House passed it in a vote of 270-157. The bill enjoyed bipartisan support, with 216 Republicans and 54 Democrats voting for it.
Speaking after the July 10 “hearing”, Ros-Lehtinen said minors are required to have parental consent before getting an ear piercing or a tattoo. Parents should also be notified before a minor has an abortion.
“I believe that it is the parent’s right to know what is going on in their children’s lives, especially regarding health matters and their medical well-being,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
Opponents of the bill argue that it would impose a complex network of parental involvement laws on women and doctors and prevent teens’ access to private health services.
President Bush expressed support for the bill when it passed the House in 2005, but the legislation failed to reach his desk.
Ros-Lehtinen said she is hopeful the bill will again be successful in the House this year.
“Once we get it to the floor, it will pass because I think our members understand that it’s parents’ responsibility to be a parent, and not the abortion industry’s responsibility to think they can be a parent for our children,” she added.
Neither Rep. Nadler nor the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) returned calls for comment.
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