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Child Custody Protection Act - Continued

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


CHILD CUSTODY PROTECTION ACT--Continued -- (Senate - July 25, 2006)

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the Child Custody Protection Act, which prohibits transporting a minor across State lines to obtain an abortion if doing so abridges a parental notification or consent statute in the State in which the minor resides. The bill also provides an exception for cases where an abortion is necessary to save the minor's life. I am proud to say that I am a cosponsor of this bill and I supported it in past Congresses.

One of the most important roles of parents is to provide guidance and comfort to their children. Parents are more mature and possess the wisdom of experience that children simply cannot possess. In no other circumstance is the need for parental guidance more important than when a child requires medical care. Who is in a better position to provide a child's relevant medical and psychological history and other valuable medical information than a parent? Not only has the Supreme Court recognized the importance of parental rights with regard to the ``care, custody, and control of their children'' as ``perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests,'' they have also acknowledged the importance of parental guidance and consent when a child is faced with a difficult decision by stating ``the law's concept of family rests on a presumption that parents possess what a child lacks in maturity, experience, and capacity for judgment required for making life's difficult decisions.''

At a time when a school nurse cannot even administer aspirin to a child with a headache without parental consent, how can we allow a child to have an abortion, a major medical procedure with potentially deadly consequences, without parental consent? I can think of no other time when parental guidance and consent is more important than when that parent's minor daughter is pregnant and contemplating abortion. A minor girl, who is undoubtedly under incredible stress, does not have the maturity to make the decision to have an abortion on her own. And, it makes matters worse when the girl receives pressure to have an abortion from the father, the father's family, or others.

As a father, it appalls me to learn that oftentimes older adult males pressure young mothers to have an abortion without telling anyone and transport these young girls into States without parental consent laws to hide instances of statutory rape. Studies show that the majority of today's teenage mothers are being impregnated by adult men. One study of 46,500 schoolage mothers in California found that two-thirds of the girls were impregnated by adult males, with the median age of the father being 22 years old. The fact that many of these adult males could be charged with statutory rape creates an incentive for them to transport young girls across state lines to have an abortion to avoid criminal prosecution.

Mr. President, the pro-abortion lobby has come out in full force against the Child Custody Protection Act saying that it infringes upon a girl's right to have an abortion. I have two major objections to that argument. First, I do not believe that a minor child has the right to an abortion without her parents' consent. At a time when children cannot even be given aspirin without parental consent, they should not be able to undergo a major medical procedure with potentially deadly consequences without parental consent. Second, the Child Custody Protection Act is not about the right to have an abortion; it is about protecting the rights of parents and the well-being of children. It is commonsense legislation that says if one State has established a legal principle for its residents, neighboring States should not discourage those residents from following that principle. This is hardly a radical or extreme proposal; rather, it is necessary, constitutional, and it is carefully and narrowly drawn. I hope that my colleagues can support this very important, commonsense legislation, which protects our most vulnerable citizens--our children.

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