I preface this post with a reminder: this blog is not a forum to discuss the morality of abortion.

Here's some info about the latest assault on our personal freedom and bodily integrity. It was fully expected, but that doesn't mean we aren't mourning. And fighting.

House Committee Approves Measure Barring Transport Of Minors Across State Lines To Avoid Abortion Parental Notice.

From the Kaiser Family Foundation Daily Reproductive Health Report:

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved 20-13 a measure (HR 748) that would bar the transportation of minors across state lines for the purpose of evading state abortion parental notification or consent laws. The bill, known as the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), would authorize fines or up to one year in prison for people who violate the measure.

The measure includes an exception if an abortion is necessary to save the life of a pregnant minor and would allow minors to gain judicial bypass from a judge in their home state to avoid parental notification (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 3/21).

Under the bill, doctors who perform abortions on minors from other states also could be subject to penalties. The measure states that abortion providers in states without parental consent laws would be required to attempt to notify in person or by certified mail a parent or legal guardian of any minor abortion patient who is a resident of another state. Parents who are not notified of their minor child's abortion would be able to sue for civil damages. The full House is expected to approve the measure as soon as next week, CQ Today reports. A Senate version of the measure (SB 403), sponsored by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), has not yet been heard in committee, according to CQ Today (CQ Today, 4/13).

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) in January said that passing legislation to avoid circumvention of state parental consent or notification laws is one of the top 10 legislative priorities for Republicans in Congress this session (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 3/21).

Proposed Amendments Before approving the measure, the committee rejected three Democrat-offered amendments to the legislation, CQ Today reports.

The panel rejected 12-19 an amendment offered by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) that would have exempted a minor's grandparents or adult siblings from being criminally liable for transporting a minor across state lines for an abortion.

In addition, the committee rejected 12-18 an amendment offered by Rep. Robert Scott (D-Va.) that would have exempted bus or taxicab drivers or others in the business of professional transportation from being prosecuted under the measure.

The committee rejected by voice vote an amendment sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) that would have made an exception for minors whose pregnancies are the result of sex with a parent, guardian or other household family member (CQ Today, 4/13).

[Ed note: In other words, if the teenager is being sexually abused, she still needs her abuser's permission and no other adult can help her. Thousands of pregnancies result from incest and sexual abuse every year.]

From Planned Parenthood Federation:

Take Action! Helping a Loved One Shouldn't Be a Crime
The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA) would outlaw an older sister, grandmother, or close family friend taking a woman under age 18 across state lines to access abortion services. It would also mandate notification of a parent even in states that have chosen not to enact such a requirement. Urge your representative to vote against CIANA: here.
Of all the restrictions on reproductive freedom, it's the attacks on teenagers that anger me the most. (Which is really saying something.)

It's easy to pick on minors - they can't vote. And it's easy to appeal irrationally to parents' desire to control their children's lives, just at the time when they are losing that control to adulthood.

"If my daughter was pregnant and getting an abortion, I'd want to know!" Then foster a home environment in which she would come to you, rather than hide in fear of punishment and shame.

"My daughter would never get pregnant, so why should I care about that!" Then you are living in a dream world. Don't make us live in yours, too.

"I would never have an abortion and neither will my daughter!" Never is a big word. Millions of women who say that have already had abortions, or will in the future. And your daughter's body doesn't belong to you. It belongs to her.

When, in the not-distant future, the US is divided into totally red states (abortion illegal under all circumstances), totally blue states (abortion legal and accessible - New York, Massachusetts, California, maybe one or two others) and mostly shades of light blue (abortion legal but with myriad obstacles), people like Rick Santorum will attempt to criminalize adult women who cross state lines to have an abortion. It will be blatantly unconstitutional and probably won't pass.

Well, not at first, anyway.


New readers, if this post makes you angry - in either direction, you might want to read these posts (republished without link info here).

Without the ability to control our reproductive lives, women can never be full and equal citizens. Therefore, the right to contraception and abortion is the sine qua non of women's freedom.

Women are humans. Women's freedom is human freedom.


L-girl said...

And that was your red card. You must be very bored.

Galileo said...

Without making an issue of whether or not abortion should be allowed or prohibitted generally, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on how a minor having an abortion compares to a minor having other medical procedures.

Under many circumstances, emergency room physicians are very limited in their options when a minor comes in. They are required to obtain parental consent for many procedures (though for not emergency and life saving measures and other consent issues vary from state to state), mostly due to the potential for complications and liability, I would assume.

Why should an abortion be treated any differently from other elective medical procedures that already require parental consent? If we were discussing lowering the general age of consent, I'd be amenable to that. But in what cases are exceptions to the current age of consent warranted, and why?

(PS... I'm not sure to what extent I agree or disagree with you. I'm just looking for food for thought.)

L-girl said...

"Why should an abortion be treated any differently from other elective medical procedures that already require parental consent?"

Good question. Two answers.

Minors don't need parental consent for an elective medical procedure - they need to be accompanied by an adult. A minor who has an abortion in New York State needs to be accompanied by someone over 18. It doesn't have to be a parent, it can be an older sibling, an aunt or a grandparent.

States that require parental consent or notification are applying an extra hurdle that only applies to abortion. Because of these laws, many minors are forced to travel out of state for procedures. Now they can do so if they can arrange it with an adult. Under this law, they will no longer be able to (legally).

Two. Abortion is different. When a teenager discloses a pregnancy to a parent, she may be beaten up, kicked out of her home, forced to bear the child against her will (not uncommon - it's a "punishment" for getting having sex) or other horrors.

If she can go to her parents, great. Some homes are like that. I know, for example, that my niece could and would go to my sister. (Though because of that openness she is also less likely to get pregnant. Funny how that works.) But when my sister was pregnant as a teenager, when my father found out he beat her senseless. And years later when it happened to me, I made sure my father didn't find out. I wasn't about to go through that on top of everything else I was coping with.

Abortion is also different because the pregnancy may be the result of sexual abuse within the home. In that case the teenager needs help outside the home, big time.

Thanks for your question, Galileo. I hope that gives you plenty to chew on!

L-girl said...

I also want to add that teenagers are, to some extent, a special category in our society that I feel need special protection.

They are technically children (legally minors) and under their parents' control. But they are also young adults and often burdened with the responsibilities of adulthood without necessarily being equipped to handle those burdens.

Teenagers are often in conflict with their parents, sometimes to a very extreme degree, as the parents may or may not be equipped to deal with their teenage child's needs.

When teenagers have sex, only the girl gets pregnant. I know that sounds silly, because it's so obvious. But a pregnancy is a huge burden for a teenage girl, who may have no support from the boy (or man) with whom she had sex. (Do you know most teenage mothers have children fathered by men over 35 years of age?)

One could argue that the girl shouldn't have had sex. But the pressures and realities of a teenage girl's life are very intense and complicated. She may feel that the sex was a mistake. Or she may be too confused and clouded-over to realize that until later. Or she may be a fairly responsible young woman whose birth control failed. (Happens all the time.)

And now she's pregnant. In my mind, she needs and deserve safe, supportive, non-judgemental care. If she can't get it at home, she needs to find it elsewhere.

I think these realities have to be factored in. It's a special situation, one that only teenage girls face.