CHILD INTERSTATE ABORTION NOTIFICATION ACT -- (Extensions of Remarks - September 29, 2006)
SPEECH OF HON. RUSH D. HOLT OF NEW JERSEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2006
* Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong opposition to the Child Custody Protection Act. The text of the bill that we are considering is quite similar to the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which the House considered in April of last year and I opposed. It is yet again another attempt by Congress to try to interfere in the personal health decisions of young women.
* The question of whether or not to have an abortion is one of the most difficult decisions any woman can face. Some issues cannot be legislated and I believe that this is one of them. Reproductive health care is a personal matter that should be left to individuals, their doctors, and their families without interference from the government.
* This bill will force mature young adults who have sought help from individuals other than their parents--including grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings and clergy members--to act alone in a time when loving support is needed. I believe that adolescents should be encouraged to seek their parents' advice and counsel when facing a difficult decision. However, the government cannot mandate healthy family communication where it does not already exist. We need to encourage our youth to seek the counsel of individuals that they do trust and that will advocate for their best interests and not encourage them to go through this difficult process and draining procedure alone.
* Not only does this bill discourage our youth from seeking adult counsel, this bill will also put the health of young women in jeopardy. A provision of this bill seeks to delay the abortion process by demanding that doctors go through a detailed and complex scheme to notify a parent. Doctors who do not comply and conduct an abortion before this notification will face fines and federal criminal penalties.
* I would guess that my colleagues on both sides of this issue agree that having an abortion should be the last option for an adolescent. But it is a reality that young women are going to continue to have to make life-altering decisions regarding their bodies regardless of restrictions the federal government places on them. Taking away the support of responsible adults in whom teens trust is not the way to stop abortions.
* I have consistently opposed legislation of this type because I want to make sure that we protect young women who are facing unintended pregnancies by providing them with assistance from adults they trust. I certainly prefer an open dialogue between parents and teens, so that a hushed, last-minute decision is not necessary. Unfortunately, parental consent is not always a viable option and teens will still make decisions that are difficult for any woman regardless of age. By passing this legislation, we will force trusted adults to turn their backs on their nieces, sisters and granddaughters and we will also be turning our back to the young women of this Nation.
* Instead of debating a measure that will impose federal punishments on family members and doctors who assist young women who are making difficult choices and considering another measure that attempts to fix a symptom, we should be having a constructive dialogue that gets at the root of this issue.
* This bill is an injustice to young women across this Nation who need all the support that they can get. I urge my colleagues to vote against this legislation because it will severely harm young women at one of the most important times in their lives.