On Thursday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee approved a measure requiring parental consent for minors who wish to obtain an abortion in another state.
The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA; H.R. 748) was reintroduced in the 109th Congress in February by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida). The Act requires parental notification or judicial authorization before doctors can perform abortions on minors from out-of-state. The bill states that violation of this requirement can result in criminal charges and penalties of up to a year in prison.
Over 30 states have already passed legislation requiring minors to notify their parents or legal guardian before getting an abortion. Supporters of the CIANA bill assert that these state laws, and the protection they afford, have been undermined by the transportation of minor girls to states which do not require parental notification.
"This horrible practice exposes teens to the dangers of surgery without the benefit of their medical records or history, and without necessary medical follow-up," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
"It is wrong to take a child away from her parents to another state for a secret abortion, yet abortion advocates support this practice and admit that it happens all the time."
Hearings for the Act began on March 3, where supporters and opponents gave testimonies before the House Subcommittee. Marcia Carroll from Lancaster, Philadelphia, shared her story about how her 14-year-old daughter. Carroll¡¯s daughter had decided to continue with her pregnancy, but was taken by her boyfriend¡¯s family to another state and held there until she received an abortion.
¡°No one should be able to circumvent state laws by performing an abortion in another state on a minor daughter without parental consent,¡± said Carroll.
Those who oppose the measure argue that it would restrict the ability of well-meaning family members to provide help for a minor in an abusive family.
"This act ignores the plight of young women who need support the most," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the Washington Legislative Office for the American Civil Liberties Union. "It forces teens from troubled families into dangerous situations and in some instances, even where good family communication exists, delays care."
Opponents argue that the measure will not help to improve communication between pregnant teens and parents. Instead, stated Murphy, ¡°The Act creates a confusing maze of requirements throughout the country. It imposes extra hurdles on some teens and leaves some with no safe options.¡±
The bill has already been passed by the House in 1998, 1999, and 2002. Now with the recommendation by the House Subcommittee, it is expected to be approved again sometime this year. A companion bill, called the Child Custody Protection Act, has been introduced in the Senate and has been slated as one of the Senate¡¯s Top Ten priorities for the new session.