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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. OBAMA. Mr. President, I am the parent of two young daughters. And as a parent, it is my sincere hope that my daughters will always feel they can come to me or my wife with any problem. So, even though I strongly believe in a woman's right to choose, I also believe that young women, if they become pregnant, should talk to their parents before considering an abortion.

But I also know that the reality is different for many young women. Some don't live in a traditional two-parent household. Others don't have a parent in whom they are comfortable confiding. For these young women, the most trusted adult in their life may be a grandparent, an aunt, or a clergy member.

I certainly hope these trusted adults would want to help a young person through a difficult time like a pregnancy. Unfortunately, this bill all but eliminates this option for young women. Instead of encouraging pregnant teens to seek the advice of adults, this bill criminalizes adults who attempt to help a young woman in need and essentially abandons them to confront a difficult issue on their own.

In fact, this bill would criminalize adults even if they were not attempting to help a young woman in need. Under this bill, if a grandparent gave a young woman a ride across a state line--say from South Dakota into neighboring Iowa--and that young woman ended up seeking an abortion, that grandparent could spend up to a year in prison.

Now, there are a lot of other problems with the bill: there is no health exception, no judicial bypass, and the notion that one State's laws can take precedence over another State's laws is unconstitutional and unacceptable. But the fundamental flaw with the bill is its criminalization of compassion. At a time when teenagers most need help, this bill would instead force caring and trusted adults--whether it's an older sister, an aunt or grandparent, or health professionals, social workers, or a minister--to stand to the side and watch the young woman go it alone.

I wish this bill was an honest effort to confront the real issue here: unwanted teen pregnancies. No one in this body--whether pro-choice or pro-life--wants young women to seek abortions. But this bill does not address this serious issue. I hope we can work to pass legislation that will provide young people today with the information they need to prevent unwanted teen pregnancies. I regret that I am unable to support this bill today.

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