House Approves Parental Notification Regarding Interstate Abortions for Minors
WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives passed legislation today by a vote of 264-153 that would make it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion in another state or foreign country in order to avoid a state law requiring parental involvement in a minor's abortion decision. Wisconsin's First District Congressman Paul Ryan voted for this legislation - S. 403, the Child Custody Protection Act, which awaits approval by the U.S. Senate before it can become law. The legislation closely resembles H.R. 748, which Ryan cosponsored and the House passed in April of 2005, while incorporating two clarifying provisions added by the Senate as well as several technical changes.
In addition to guarding against situations where a young girl could be taken by an abusive boyfriend or other individual to have an abortion out of state without her parents' knowledge, this legislation requires that, in cases where a minor seeking an abortion travels to another state that does not have a parental involvement law, abortionists must provide at least 24 hours' notice of the minor's decision to a parent of the minor, or a legal guardian if necessary, before the abortion is performed. Failure to do so would be a federal crime subject to up to a $100,000 fine, or one year of prison, or both. The same penalty would apply for those who transport a minor across state lines to circumvent their state's parental notification law.
"Parents have a responsibility to protect their children's health and well-being, and this legislation helps them do this," Ryan said. "It will help prevent young girls from being pressured into crossing state lines for an abortion that they conceal from their parents - something we should all agree is dangerous and harmful."
The legislation contains exceptions for life-threatening or medical emergencies, cases where the minor declares in a written statement that she is the victim of abuse by a parent and the abortion provider informs the appropriate state authorities of such abuse, and certain other narrowly defined circumstances.
Twenty-nine states currently have parental involvement laws in effect; Wisconsin is not counted among them, due to the way its consent law is written.