A group of experts testified this morning before the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution about the necessity of a bill that would make it illegal for anyone to get around state parental-notification laws by taking a girl to another state for an abortion.
The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (H.R. 2299) has 153 cosponsors in the House, and would levy fines and prison sentences on anyone taking a minor to another state in order to avoid telling her parents or getting their permission to have an abortion. It also would require abortionists to make every effort to give a girl's parents at least 24 hours notice, unless the teen's life is at stake.
"Regardless of whether the girl choose to continue or terminate her pregnancy, parental-involvement laws have proven desirable because they afford greater protection for the many girls who are pregnant due to sexual assault," said Teresa Collett, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis who's testified before Congress several times. "By insuring that parents know of the pregnancy, it becomes much more likely that they will intervene to insure the protection of their daughters from future assaults."
Collett pointed out that 74 percent of sexually active girls younger than 14report having nonconsensual sex — and in California, men 25 and older father more children by teenage girls than do boys under 18. But several abortionists nationwide have been held liable for failing to report suspected cases of statutory rape.
Michael J. New, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, said all the studies done on parental involvement laws show they're worth enacting. Not only do they reduce abortion, they also provide strong incentives for girls not to engage in unprotected sex.
And an interstate abortion-notification law, he said, is needed for several reasons.
"Every study that tracks out-of-state abortions finds that after a parental-involvement law goes into effect, the number of girls obtaining abortions in adjacent states without parental-involvement laws will increase by a statistically significant margin," he said.
"It is safe to say that parents have more invested in the well-being of their minor daughters than a boyfriend, a friend or a relative. They also would likely have the best knowledge of their daughter's medical history. There have been reported instances where minor girls obtained abortions without their parents' knowledge and died because they did not realize they were allergic to the anesthesia."
Contact: Karla Dial