CHILD CUSTODY PROTECTION ACT--Continued -- (Senate - July 25, 2006)
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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Nevada, and I thank the leadership for bringing up this topic. It is commonsense and pro-family legislation. I hope we pass it in an overwhelming fashion through this body and that it arrives on the President's desk once we go through conference committee and get it back here and that it can become the law of the land.
The bill has been described in many different iterations. I believe people understand the concept of what is being put forward about involving the family. I believe this is a significant pro-parent, pro-child, pro-life piece of legislation. It is a bill that everybody knows is to help to preserve this role by making it illegal for somebody to take a child across State lines for an abortion, thereby circumventing parental rights laws in the State where the child resides. That is all well known. The issue I wish to deal with briefly, if I could, is the commonsense feature of this legislation.
Everybody has talked about the examples of how you cannot get an aspirin in school without the parents' permission. You virtually cannot do any medical procedure without the parents' permission, except an abortion. Everybody looks at that, and they are quizzical and wonder why there is this exception.
I wish to talk about the commonsense feature of this. Why is it that we don't give aspirin to children at school? Why is it that we require that parents are involved in the medical decisions of their children? The reason, I think--and most people look at it as common sense--is that there are consequences to this. If this happens, if the child has a response to the aspirin or if the child has some reaction to a minor surgery, the parent needs to be involved. Something might happen, so the parent needs to know. We need to take care of the child. The parents have the role of being entrusted with that child's life and working with that child and therefore needs to be actively engaged in knowing what is going on with the child.
We have held hearings in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, and many States have held hearings on the impact of abortion on women. There are groups that are formed about the impact of abortion on women, both physically and psychologically. We have had expert witnesses present and testimony about how abortion impacts and harms women physically and psychologically. There have been books written on this topic. Some people say: We don't think it has as big an impact as you say it has. Others say: I think it has a bigger impact. That debate can be taken, I suppose, to any medical procedure on a child.
The point of the issue is that we have the parents there to help them help the child, and they decide. That is who is making the decision. That is who is making the decision on whether the child gets minor medical care at the school. You want the parents involved. They are the guardians, the ones who are responsible.
Here is a situation where, clearly, you have a physical impact on the child. I believe clearly that you have a psychological impact on that child. I think that has been documented. Others question whether that has been fully documented. Clearly, on a number of women who have abortions, there is a psychological impact. Isn't it simply common sense that parents would be involved in such a monumental decision that is going to impact this child for the rest of their life and that parent would be involved in helping the child to process what is the wise decision, the right thing to do, the appropriate thing, what the options are and the sorts of things they can do? Particularly at a time when the child is going to have to process this in a difficult emotional situation, the parent needs to be involved and should be involved to give that wise counsel, prudent counsel, to the child involved in this particular circumstance.
Parents can and do help present all of the health facts to their children and help them make a prudent decision. That is just basic common sense. It is the right thing that we ought to do. Parents can help to spot abusive situations which might not otherwise be evident to the child. Without parental involvement, abortion can be forced upon a young woman by, in some cases, an abusive male figure in order to cover up a crime.
The role of parents in protecting children is essential. This cannot be delegated to any other person. Yet in this law, we even provide for the judicial bypass procedure. Especially when a daughter is facing an unintended pregnancy, parents need to be involved. We talk a lot on the Senate floor and have worked over the years to try to build more and stronger family units. One of the key ways to do that is to have the parents more involved in the decisionmaking of the child, particularly when health consequences are there. This is one on which that should take place.
When a child is undergoing this procedure, it does clearly terminate a young life growing in the mother's womb. That has an impact on the child psychologically, if in no other fashion. Parents need to be involved in helping to process how that is going to be handled for the child.
I believe this legislation is a step in the right direction. It would go some distance toward helping protect parents' rights and children's health. It would help integrate and build that relationship between the parent and child.
I urge my colleagues to pass this legislation. I hope, as a message to the country, we can pass it in a large bipartisan fashion and send a signal to people that this makes good sense.
It is appropriate for us to do.
It is not simply that you are pro-life or you are pro-choice; therefore, we are going to split on those lines. Rather, we should look at this as parents, as we virtually all are on this floor, and saying as a parent, whether I am pro-life or pro-choice, I would want that sort of information for my child, and I would want to be able to have that information to process as a parent, and that I would say to my legislators I am one way or the other on the abortion debate, but as a parent I believe it is my duty to know this. This is my duty to be involved in this type of decisionmaking for my child.
I think that is why, while we have a lot of debate about the issue of abortion in the country, this is so strongly supported by people because so many people look at this outside the abortion debate, and they look at it much more as a parental debate, as to how they observe and they deal and they want to deal with this particular issue. I urge my colleagues to look at it that way as well. Take it out of the grid of the abortion debate and put it into the decisionmaking grid of a parent. I think if we do that, we will pass this in a strong bipartisan fashion.
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