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Child Custody Protection Act - Continued

Location: Washington, DC

CHILD CUSTODY PROTECTION ACT--Continued -- (Senate - July 25, 2006)


Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President. I rise today in support of legislation protecting the most important relationship of all: that of parents and their children. The family is the fundamental, crucial and indispensable building block of our civilization, and parents are at its center. Yet, when it comes to one of the most important decisions in life, children are being kept from the guidance of their parents. I am talking, of course, about the decision whether or not to have an abortion.

The American people believe that parents should be involved in deciding whether their daughter should undergo an abortion. Statistics consistently show this, and the Supreme Court has upheld this. As the Court noted in the decision of H.L. v. Matheson: ``the medical, emotional, and psychological consequences of an abortion are serious and can be lasting; this is particularly so when the patient is immature.'' In the case of Parham V. J.R. the Court said ``[t]he law's concept of the family rests on a presumption that parents possess what a child lacks in maturity, experience, and capacity for judgment required for making life's difficult decisions.''

Convinced of the soundness of this reasoning, at least 48 States have enacted laws requiring consent of or notification to at least one parent, or authorization by a judge, before a minor can obtain an abortion. Unfortunately, this wise policy is being undermined.

Thousands of children every year are taken across State lines by people other than their parents to secure secret abortions. As we speak, abortion providers across the Nation, operating in States with no parental consent or notification laws, are taking out advertisements in phonebooks outside of the State where they operate in order to attract underage patients in neighboring States with different laws. They are doing this in my home State of Idaho. They are doing this in Pennsylvania, blatantly trumpeting the fact that their clinics, outside of Pennsylvania, do not require parental notification as Pennsylvania does. In essence, these abortion providers are encouraging people to circumvent one State's parental notification law by crossing the border into another for a secret abortion.

The tragedy is that thousands of non-related adults take this suggestion every year in successful attempts to circumvent the law. In one highly publicized case, a 12-year-old girl living in a State with a constitutionally upheld parental notification law became pregnant by an 18-year-old man. The man's mother took her for an abortion in a neighboring State with no parental notification requirement. The mother's actions were discovered, and she was convicted of interfering with the custody of a child. A prominent proabortion legal defense organization appealed the conviction on the grounds that she merely ``assisted a woman to exercise her constitutional rights'' and as such was herself protected from prosecution by the Constitution. This reasoning cannot stand.

To say that, because the Court in Roe v. Wade declared most abortions constitutionally protected during the first trimester, that therefore minors have an absolute right to abortion without so much as notifying their parents, and that third parties--whatever their motives--have the right to transport them across State lines for a secret abortion, is to stand constitutional protections on their head. It is to strip children of the natural protection of their parents. There is hardly another circumstance warranting the need for parental guidance and judgment more than when a young daughter becomes pregnant and is considering an abortion. For the sake of our children and our families, this must stop. As a Nation, we loosen our precious family ties at our peril.

I must also note that Idaho is unable to enforce parental notification and consent laws that have passed the State legislature and have been signed into law by the Governor. Nearly 20 other States are in the same situation. These laws are all enjoined due to lawsuits brought by organizations intent on imposing their flawed understanding of the United States Constitutional protections on the American people, and judges willing to support it. It is my hope that this litigation will be resolved and that the right of elected officials to make and enforce laws under their jurisdiction will be upheld.

I strongly support and am cosponsoring the Child Custody Protection Act. Children must receive parental consent for even minor surgical procedures. Children must receive parental consent to take an asprin from their school nurse. I want to make it a Federal offense to transport a minor across State lines with intent to avoid the application of a State law requiring parental involvement in a minor's abortion, or judicial waiver of such a requirement. The profound, lasting physical and psychological effects of abortion demand that we help states guarantee parental involvement in the abortion decision. That means, at a minimum, seeing to it that outside parties cannot walk around State parental notification and consent laws on a whim or as a means to hide illegal activity. We can no more afford to allow State laws to be ignored than we can afford to allow family ties to be further undermined. For the sake of our families, I urge my colleagues to defend both by supporting the Child Custody Protection Act.


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