Apr. 14, 2005 – The US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would criminalize helping teens circumvent state parental notification laws when obtaining abortions across state lines, moving the controversial measure one step closer to passage yesterday.
The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act would penalize adults who help minors travel out of state for abortions if the teen has failed to comply with any state law requiring her to notify or obtain her parents. Forty-four states laws on the books requiring young women to notify a parent or obtain parental permission before exercising their abortion rights. However, several of these laws are currently not enforced because courts have found them unconstitutional.
Proponents of the measure, who believe abortion is immoral, say it will help protect the health of minors and prevent adults who are not a womanâ€™s legal guardian from circumventing what they call "parentsâ€™ rights."
But pro-choice advocates, who have dubbed the legislation the "Teen Endangerment Act," argue the measure would impose undue restrictions on girlsâ€™ right to legal and safe abortions, endanger teenagersâ€™ health, and punish adults for helping "young women in need." They point to studies showing that in the relatively rare cases that young women do not consult their parents before ending a pregnancy, most teens do turn to a trusted adult. Additionally, most teens that do not talk to their parents before choosing abortion avoid parental notification out of fear of violence.