The U.S. House today passed,
on a 270-159 vote, a bill that would jail a trusted adult for assisting a teenager
in obtaining an out-of-state abortion. The so-called "Child Custody Protection
Act" would prohibit anyone other than a parent -- including a grandparent, aunt,
adult sibling or religious counselor -- from taking a woman across state lines
for an abortion if doing so would violate the resident's state parental involvement
"This latest Congressional
assault on access to abortion will not protect young women, improve family communication,
or help minors facing an unintended pregnancy. In fact, it would isolate and endanger
young women who cannot involve their parents in their decision and force them
'go it alone.' Under this bill, grandmothers, aunts, or older sisters could even
be arrested and jailed for helping their loved one in a time of need.
"Ideally every young woman
would have the support of a strong and loving family. But we must recognize that
some young women legitimately cannot consult their parents when facing an unintended
pregnancy because they fear family violence or because the pregnancy resulted
from incest. Under this bill, women most in need of advice from another caring
adult will be denied that option.
"Instead of working to reduce
options for women already facing crisis pregnancies, lawmakers should promote
policies and programs that prevent unintended pregnancy. Legislators -- regardless
of their position on abortion -- should work to increase funding for family planning
services; promote comprehensive sexuality education so that young people have
all the information necessary to avoid unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted
diseases; and require insurance companies to cover contraceptives, thus eliminating
cost as a deterrent to preventing unintended pregnancy.
"Bills like the so-called
Child Custody Protection Act do not promote family communication or protect women's
reproductive health. Congress should focus on positive initiatives to reduce unintended
pregnancy among adults and teens, rather than on restrictive measures that endanger
women and do nothing to make abortion less necessary."