Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act

By:  Steve Chabot
Date: April 27, 2005
Location: Washington, DC


CHILD INTERSTATE ABORTION NOTIFICATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - April 27, 2005)

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time, and I rise in strong support of H.R. 748, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, CIANA, which was introduced by my colleague, the distinguished gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen). I would also like to thank our chairman, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), for his leadership on this bill as well.

CIANA's predecessor, the Child Custody Protection Act, received broad support, passing this House by over 100-vote margins on three separate occasions, including the 105th, the 106th, and the 107th Congresses. H.R. 748, introduced this session, was favorably reported out of the Subcommittee on the Constitution on March 17 and out of the full Committee on the Judiciary on April 13 of this year.

Passing CIANA is critical to both protecting our minors as well as preserving the opportunity for parents to be involved in their children's decisions. The first section of CIANA, as our chairman mentioned, would make it a Federal crime to transport a minor across State lines to obtain an abortion in another State in circumvention of a State's parental notification law.

The primary purpose of the first section is to prevent people, including abusive boyfriends and older men, and oftentimes we have seen people in their twenties and we have seen girls 15, 16, 17 years of age here, so oftentimes it is statutory rape, from pressuring these young girls into circumventing their State's parental involvement laws by receiving secret out-of-State abortions, unknown to their parents. The parents are the ones that ought to be involved in making these oftentimes life-altering decisions, not some abusive boyfriend, not some older man whose interests are to protect himself and perhaps to do away with the evidence. He does not have that girl's best interests in mind. The parents are the ones that ought to be involved in making this decision.

CIANA recognizes certain exemptions to the act's requirements, including instances in which a life-threatening emergency may require an abortion be provided immediately; instances in which the abortion provider is presented with court papers showing that the parental involvement law in effect in the minor's home State has been complied with; and instances in which the minor states that she has been the victim of abuse by a parent and the abortion provider informs the appropriate State authorities of such abuse so that it can be prevented.

The statistics show that approximately 80 percent of the public favors parental notification laws, and as recently as last month, 75 percent of 1,500 registered voters favored requiring parental notification before a minor could get an abortion, with only 18 percent opposing parental notification.

Forty-four States have enacted some form of parental involvement statute. Twenty-three of these States enforce statutes that require the consent or notification of at least one parent or court authorization before a young girl can obtain an abortion, including my State, the State of Ohio. Such laws reflect the widespread agreement that the parents of a pregnant minor are best suited to provide counsel and guidance and support as the girl decides whether to continue her pregnancy or to undergo an abortion.

The Subcommittee on the Constitution heard firsthand about this life-altering procedure, as our chairman mentioned. We had the mother of a young girl. This young girl was essentially pressured by the boyfriend and the boyfriend's parents. This young girl's parents thought they were sending her to school; she was then taken out of State, from Pennsylvania into New Jersey, where an abortion was performed on her. The parents and the boyfriend, they went out and had lunch while she is undergoing this abortion.

This girl did not want to go through with it to begin with. They pressured her, and when she got there, she said she did not want to go through with it. That was the evidence in the committee. She was told by them if you do not go through with this, you do not have a way to get back home. So she would have been stuck there. The mother found out about this, and the daughter, she said, still cries about this constantly; that she wishes she could go back and undo what happened to her, but obviously it is too late.

The parents should have been entitled to have been involved in this process, but, unfortunately, too often that is not the case if they are being pressured by the boyfriend or some abusive adult. Parents such as Mrs. Carroll should be given the chance to be involved in these life-altering decisions. Confused and frightened young girls who find themselves in these situations are routinely influenced and assisted by adults in obtaining abortions and are encouraged to avoid parental involvement by crossing State lines.

These girls are often guided by those who do not share the love and affection that the parents do. It should be the parents involved. Parental involvement is critical. I strongly urge my colleagues to support this legislation.

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.

This amendment, as the chairman previously indicated, is just unnecessary. If you go to the language of the bill itself, it indicates it is essentially illegal to knowingly transport a minor across the State line with the intent that such minor obtain an abortion, and so on.

Now, clearly the taxicab driver's intent is to obtain the fare, not that the young girl receive an abortion. So this is really unnecessary. I might add, during the course of this debate we have heard a number of things. We had heard that parents, for example, that a girl is not protected under this proposed bill because perhaps there is a case of incest; perhaps the father is the one that actually was responsible for the girl becoming pregnant. Judicial bypass, as we all know, as it does under the various State laws, protects that particular situation so that is really not an issue.

I think the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde) was exactly right when he said that in essence when you have somebody secreting a girl who is pregnant to have a secret abortion in another State, that is an assault on the family, and that is what we are trying to prevent.

Again, the parents are in the best position to be able to determine what is in the best interest of that child.
Finally, I just wanted to say we have heard this bill, which I think is a very good pill and has passed in this House three times before, we have heard it called by some folks on the other side ludicrous, laughable, cruel; but I just might note that the last time this bill was before this House, 58 Democrats, 58 folks on the other side of the aisle voted for this bill. And so that is a little more than 1 in 4 supported this bill.

I think it is great legislation. I am very pleased we will once again take it up.

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