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Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act

Location: Washington, DC

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

Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Chairman, this bill imposes a Federal parental notification requirement on the 27 States, including my own of Illinois, that either have no parental involvement law in effect, or require parental involvement but allow flexible alternatives, such as allowing an adult family member to be notified or give consent.

Since Illinois has no parental involvement law in effect, the bill will impose tough and unrealistic requirements to Illinois providers for the first time. Under the bill, doctors will be asked to comply with other State laws, verify the information provided by patients, and obtain in-person parental consents, even if the parents were abusive or guilty of incest.

To make matters worse, because this bill lacks an adequate exception for medical emergencies, Illinois doctors could be force to withhold needed medical treatment from their patients in order to comply with this Federal law.

Young people from Missouri, Indiana, and other neighboring States often travel to Illinois for safe abortion care, frequently because the nearest abortion provider happens to be located in Illinois. Yet this legislation would criminalize responsible adults.


Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Chairman, I stand today in strong opposition to H.R. 748, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act. It is a direct attack on a woman's right to choose, it endangers women's health, and it forces young women facing unintended pregnancies to choose between dealing with it on their own or enlisting the help of a trusted adult who could possibly be put in jail as a result. This bill makes it a crime for anyone other than a parent, including a grandparent or a religious counselor, to accompany a minor across state lines for an abortion if the minor has not complied with her home state's mandated parental consent or notification law. This bill also makes it a federal crime for a doctor to perform an abortion on a young woman who is a resident of another state unless the doctor notifies the young woman's parent in person at least 24 hours before the procedure.

I agree that, whenever possible, minors should go to their parents for help in difficult situations. And research tells us that the majority of the time, young women do talk with their parents when making difficult decisions about pregnancy, whether their state requires parental consent for an abortion or not. Unfortunately, H.R. 748 ignores the reality of many situations where a young woman may choose not to go to her parents, possibly because she fears violence or because she was the victim of incest or because their parent is not available. Very often in those situations, young women seek help and guidance from other trusted adults in their lives, such as grandparents, aunts, and ministers. Yet, this law would deter many young women from seeking help and would instead tell them that they must deal with this situation on their own.

The reality is that CIANA will not make more young women tell their parents about a pregnancy if they do not want to, nor will it reduce or prevent abortion. What it would do is endanger the health of young women who feel they have no other choice but to seek illegal or self-induced abortions and who will be limited in their options for receiving health care. The American Medical Association has noted that ``the desire to maintain secrecy has been one of the leading reasons for illegal abortion deaths.'' The American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,

and the Society for Adolescent Medicine all oppose this bill because of the dangers they pose to young women and the need for confidential access to physicians. The coalition of health groups in their letter urging Congress to oppose this bill state, ``Our primary responsibility must be to our patients. The potential health risks to adolescents if they are unable to obtain reproductive health services are so compelling that deference to parental involvement should not stand in the way of needed health care for patients who request confidentiality.''

This bill would force minors to delay urgent health care and, contrary to proponents' claims, infringe on the rights of parents. There is no exception to either the waiting period or the notification requirement in cases where a person is facing a serious but not life-threatening medical emergency. In a medical emergency, a young person would be forced to wait 24 hours for an abortion that could avert serious risks to her health. The abortion must be delayed even when the minor's parent accompanies her and requests medical help.

Furthermore, many young women who obtain abortions outside of their home States do so for reasons that have nothing to do with avoiding their home States' laws. The most prevalent and compelling of these reasons is the lack of abortion providers. Only 13 percent of U.S. counties have an abortion provider. Several states, in fact, have only a single provider or a provider who may be located many hours away from a young woman's home.

Lastly, CIANA violates the basic principle of federalism by attaching the laws of a woman's home State no matter where she travels in the Nation. The Supreme Court has held that States are required to make abortions available to visitors on the same legal terms under which they make them available to residents. Since Illinois has no parental involvement law in effect, this bill would impose tough and unrealistic requirements to Illinois providers for the first time. Under CIANA, doctors will be asked to comply with other State laws, verify the information provided by patients, and obtain in-person parental consent even if parents are abusive, guilty of incest or absent from the household. CIANA imposes a punitive and arbitrary federal parental notification requirement that will trump the public policy judgments of the 27 States that lack such requirements. It will mean that physicians who comply with their State's laws and provide medical care to their patients could be treated as criminals.

Make no mistake, this law is a direct threat to a woman's right to make decisions about her reproductive health. We need to see this bill for what it really is--another attempt to chip away at Roe v. Wade and deny women choice.

The Government cannot mandate healthy family communication where it does not already exist. We must face this reality and work to help teens receive the treatment, counseling, and support they need when it comes to reproductive health. I urge my colleagues to reject H.R. 748 because it would endanger young women's health and force them to be alone at a time when they are most vulnerable and most in need of support from a trusted adult.

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