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Dear Member of Congress:
On or about April 27, the House of Representatives will take up the Child
Interstate Abortion Notification Act (H.R. 748), sponsored by Congresswoman
Ros-Lehtinen. This bill, which would do much to protect the well-being of
minor girls and the rights of their parents, is strongly supported by the
National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and by our affiliates in every
We urge you to oppose all weakening amendments and procedural attacks on
H.R. 748, and to support its final passage.
The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA) incorporates all of
the provisions previously contained in the Child Custody Protection Act
(H.R. 1755 in the 108th Congress), a bill that the House passed in 1998,
1999, and 2002. Under those provisions, it would be a violation of federal
law to transport a minor girl across state lines for the purpose of
procuring an abortion, if this is done to evade a parental notification or
parental consent law that is in effect in the girl's home state.
In addition, H.R. 748 requires that in a state without a parental
notification requirement, before an abortion provider may perform an
abortion on a minor girl who is the resident of a different state, that
provider must notify a parent -- unless the minor has already received
authorization from a judge in her home state ("judicial bypass"), or unless
she falls into carefully crafted exceptions to cover cases of abuse or
Parental notification or parental consent laws, consistent with existing
Supreme Court caselaw, are in effect in about half the states. These laws
are often circumvented by interstate transportation of minors, and Congress
has a duty to regulate this interstate activity, which is the sole purpose
and effect of the CIANA. The CIANA would not affect abortions that are
performed on girls by abortion providers within their home states.
H.R. 748 fully recognizes the legal rights of persons who are not parents
but who hold the legal authority of parents under state law, including legal
guardians, legal custodians, and any "person standing in loco parentis who
has care and control of the minor, and with whom the minor regularly
resides, who is designated by the law requiring parental involvement in the
minor's abortion decision as a person to whom notification, or from whom
consent, is required." However, opponents of H.R. 748 have proposed
amendments to empower in-laws, siblings, religious counselors, godparents,
cousins, or other persons who do NOT have the legal authority of parents, to
authorize out-of-state abortions and even to transport a minor out of state
without the knowledge of either parent. We strongly urge you to oppose all
such amendments. Congress should protect parental rights, not codify
Opponents of the bill often refer to cases in which minors are the subject
of sexual abuse or other physical abuse by a parent. H.R. 748 explicitly
provides for such cases by allowing an abortion provider to refrain from
parental notification in that circumstance, and to notify instead the
appropriate state child abuse agency. Some opponents of H.R. 748, however,
wish to exempt abuse victims entirely from the scope of the bill -- an
approach that would greatly increase the likelihood that these minors would
be subjected to abortions and then returned to the cycle of abuse.
H.R. 748 also contains an exception that would apply to a rare case, should
it ever occur, in which a girl's life is endangered and an abortion is
necessary to prevent her death. Opponents of the bill, however, have argued
that the bill should be amended to exempt any case in which an abortionist
asserts that an abortion will benefit the "health" of a minor. The term
"health" is often construed to include alleviation of emotional distress and
thereby could be employed to cover any abortion.
However, in a case in which a minor has a genuine serious physical health
problem, that is all the more reason that a parent should be involved. Only
the parent is likely to know the child's full medical history, and it is
likely to be a parent who must recognize and respond to an infection or
other complications of an abortion -- complications that a parent might well
overlook if he or she does not even know that an abortion has occurred.
In addition to the exceptions described above, H.R. 748 also recognizes and
accepts a waiver issued by a court in the home state of any minor whose home
state already has a parental involvement law in effect. In other words,
under H.R. 748, the same judicial bypass process that suffices for an
abortion in the minor's home state, also would suffice for the minor to
receive an out-of-state abortion. That is not sufficient for the opponents
of H.R. 748, however, who want to permit complete circumvention of the home
state's parental involvement requirements, including the judicial bypass
Parental notification and parental consent laws are supported by
overwhelming majorities of the public. For example, when a national
Quinnipiac University poll of 1,534 registered voters, conducted March 2-7,
2005, asked, "Do you favor or oppose requiring parental notification before
a minor could get an abortion?," 75% favored and only 18% opposed.
Please oppose all weakening amendments and procedural attacks on H.R. 748,
and support the bill on final passage. NRLC expects to include the roll
call on final passage, and also the most important preceding roll calls on
procedural questions and amendments, in the NRLC scorecard of key pro-life
congressional roll calls for 2005.
Thank you for your consideration of NRLC's position on this important
legislation. For additional information regarding parental notification for
abortion, including the results of other public opinion polls on this issue,
here, reply to this e-mail, or call the NRLC Federal Legislation
Department at 202-626-8820.
NRLC Legislative Director
NRLC Congressional Liaison
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