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Location: Washington, DC

ABORTION -- (House of Representatives - April 13, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, in a country that espouses the importance of protecting the inherent rights of every person, abortion denies the rights of our most innocent and vulnerable members, our children.

As legislators, we have the great responsibility to strive to uphold the truths upon which our great country was founded, especially that every individual is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Abortion is not a sign that women are ``free to choose.'' It is a sign that women have been abandoned.

They have not had the support and care that they so desperately need. Rather, abortion is the only option offered.

Abortion is one of the greatest scourges of our time. It is a sign that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion. It is a crime against humanity which not only takes the innocent life of a child but also profoundly alters the life of the mother. Women possess dignity and intrinsic beauty, and abortion tears them apart at the very core of their being.

I am proud to have had the opportunity to join with such dynamic pro-life women as Patricia Heaton, the costar of the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond. She is an outspoken advocate for women and for the protection of the rights of the unborn. This past week, I met with Patricia while she was in Washington meeting with Members of Congress and staff members discussing the crucial need that we have as a society to strive to address the real challenges facing pregnant women and promoting women-centered solutions to significantly reduce abortion and protect women's health.

I am pleased to be associated with organizations that work to increase public awareness of the devastation that abortion brings to women, men and their families. These organizations ensure that the emotional and physical pain of abortion will no longer be shrouded in secrecy and silence but rather exposed and healed.

This past year, the pro-life movement has enjoyed many major victories in Congress. We have seen the passage of legislation protecting the sanctity of life and addressing the critical needs of women. The Partial Birth Abortion Ban was signed into law by President Bush. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act also passed the House.

I have worked together with my colleagues here in Congress and with President Bush to defend the intrinsic rights of all citizens, especially the most defenseless. I am pleased to note that today the House Committee on the Judiciary held a markup of my bill, H.R. 748, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, CIANA. It was referred favorably as amended out of committee by a 20 to 13 margin and should be brought to the floor for a vote soon.

This critical legislation makes it a Federal offense to knowingly transport a minor across a State line with the intent that she obtain an abortion in circumvention of a State's parental consent or parental notification law. CIANA also requires that a parent or, if necessary, a legal guardian be notified pursuant to a default Federal parental notification rule when a minor crosses State lines to obtain an abortion, unless one of several carefully drawn exceptions is met.

A minor who is forbidden to drink alcohol, to stay past a certain hour or to get her ears pierced without parental consent is certainly not prepared to make a life-altering, hazardous and potentially fatal decision such as obtaining an abortion without the consultation or the consent of at least one parent.

My legislation will close a loophole that allows adults not only to help minors break State laws by obtaining an abortion without parental consent but is also, unfortunately, contributing to ending the life of an innocent child. We will close that loophole.

I am hopeful that in this 109th session of Congress we will be successful in securing the rights of parents once and for all, and I encourage my colleagues to vote in favor of this bill.

We have a great responsibility as a Nation to maintain a true reverence for vulnerable human life and to continue to build a culture of life. I will continue to work to ensure that the precious gift of life and the dignity of womanhood are promoted and protected at every level.

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