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JUNE 30, 1999  3:09 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
NARAL
William J. Lutz of National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, 202-973-3032
NARAL President Statement on House Passage of So-Called 'Child Custoday Protection Act'
 
WASHINGTON - June 30 - The following is a statement by NARAL President Kate Michelman on House passage of the so-called "Child Custody Protection Act:"

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 law.

"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."

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