July 14, 2008
A commonsense way to reduce abortion would be for Congress to pass legislation requiring parental notification. The problem is that many abortion clinics lure young girls from their home states that have parental notice laws to states where they can get abortions without their parents knowing. Often the man who gets a young girl pregnant takes her to the clinic. To counter this type of human trafficking, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) reintroduced the Child Interstate Notification Act (H.R. 1063).
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen testified at a forum Thursday, July 10 in favor of the bill, stating, "This historic legislation will put an end to the abortion clinics and family planning organizations that exploit young, vulnerable girls by luring them to recklessly disobey state laws." Read the rest of Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's testimony below.
Democrats controlling the House Judiciary Committee have refused to hold a hearing on this bi-partisan legislation, so the Judiciary Committee minority members held a forum on this legislation. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) led the forum, and you can read Rep. Franks' statement here, and Rep. Smith's statement here.
H.R. 1063: The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act House Constitution Subcommittee July 10, 2008
H.R. 1063: The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act
House Constitution Subcommittee
July 10, 2008
I would like to begin by commending Ranking Member Lamar Smith and Constitution Subcommittee Ranking Member Trent Franks for his outstanding leadership on this and so many other important pro-life issues.
Abortion is perhaps one of the most life-altering and life-threatening of procedures. It leaves lasting medical, emotional, and psychological scars. Although Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, it did not legalize the right for persons other than a parent or a guardian to decide what is best for a child. Nor did it legalize the right for strangers to place our children in a dangerous or potentially fatal situation.
In our society, there are many rules and regulations aimed at ensuring the safety of our nation's youth through parental guidance. At many schools in my district of Miami-Dade County a child cannot be given aspirin to relieve a simple headache or cramp, unless the school has been given consent, signed by a parent or legal guardian.
Today parental consent must also be obtained in order for a minor to get her ears pieced, to go on a field trip a few miles away, or participate in a sexual education course. In each of these instances, it is recognized and mandated that parents be involved in decisions impacting their children.
The decision of whether or not to obtain an abortion, a life-altering, potentially fatal, and serious medical procedure, should not be an exception to the rule.
As a mother of two college-aged daughters, I realize the profound impact that a positive relationship with one's parent or primary caregiver has on the development of our young people. And I believe that parents have a right to know what is going on in their children's lives, especially with regards to their health and medical well-being.
My bill, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (H.R. 1063) is intended to reaffirm a parent's role in their children's lives. CIANA makes it a federal offense to transport a minor across state lines to circumvent abortion parental notification laws in a girl's home state.
In addition, the bill will require that in a state without a parental notification requirement, abortion providers are required to notify a parent. It will protect minors from exploitation from the abortion industry, promote strong family ties, and will help foster respect for state laws.
This historic legislation will put an end to the abortion clinics and family planning organizations that exploit young, vulnerable girls by luring them to recklessly disobey state laws.
I am proud to have introduced this bill in January 2007 and have also introduced varying versions of the bill in the 109th, 108th, 107th, 106th, and 105th Congress.This bill has also passed the House by large margins in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006.
CIANA currently has the bi-partisan support over 130 Members of Congress. I am hopeful, but not overly optimistic, that it will pass again.
About 80% of the public favors parental notification laws, and over 30 states have enacted such laws, including my home state of Florida. Yet, these laws are often evaded by interstate transportation of minors, which is even openly encouraged in advertising by abortion providers.
Parental consent or parental notification laws may vary from state to state, but they are all made with the same purpose in mind: to protect frightened and confused adolescent girls from harm, by allowing them to make proper, safe, and informed decisions.
I thank you for holding this forum, and I hope that further action will be taken on H.R. 1063 for the purpose of upholding safety laws designed by individual states.
This bill will protect parents' rights to be involved in decisions involving their minor children, will work to strengthen the bonds of America's families, and most importantly will ensure that America's youth have a safer, healthier, and brighter future.
We are holding this forum today to discuss a piece of bipartisan legislation I had hoped would have been addressed in the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, a subcommittee on which I serve as Ranking Member.
On April 7, I sent a letter to the Chairman of that subcommittee, Jerrold Nadler requesting that he hold an official hearing on the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, H.R. 1063. That bill would prohibit the transportation of minors across state lines by others who seek to circumvent state abortion involvement laws that require the notification or consent of a parent before an abortion can be performed. A made that request in a bipartisan spirit, as similar legislation passed the House of Representatives last Congress by a vote of 270 to 157 with strong bipartisan support.
I pointed out in my letter that this legislation is strongly supported by the American people. When one CBS News poll asked respondents "Would you favor or oppose requiring that at least one parent be told before a girl under 18 years of age could have an abortion?" 80% responded "Favor." And when a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll asked "Do you think a female under age 18 should be required by state law to notify at least one parent or guardian before having an abortion?" 78% responded "Yes," including 64% of those who identified themselves as "pro-choice."
As this issue relates to the interstate transportation of minors across state lines for the purpose of circumventing valid state parental involvement laws, it is an issue that can only be addressed by Congress. Consequently, I was gravely disappointed when Chairman Nadler refused to respond to both my original April 7 letter and my May 16 follow-up on my request.
What that suggests to me is a deep division between the political parties regarding how each views parental rights, concerns for young women's health, and the unborn. Republicans believe that parents should be allowed to know when a potentially dangerous medical procedure is performed on their minor daughters. The Democratic leadership apparently does not. And when the Constitution plainly allows Congress to prevent the circumvention of valid state parental involvement laws, the Democratic leadership refuses to even hold a hearing on that pressing subject, despite overwhelming popular opinion supporting legislative action.
About half of the states, including my own state of Arizona, currently have such parental involvement laws. Yet abortion clinics, such as those in the newspaper advertisements displayed behind me, encourage the circumventing of these state laws. One of the purposes of the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act is to prevent people - including abusive boyfriends and older men who may have committed rape -- from pressuring young girls into circumventing their state's parental involvement laws by receiving a secret out-of-state abortion.
Nothing in CIANA prevents a minor from obtaining an abortion. CIANA simply protects the right of parents to be given a chance to help their children through difficult times. Even Dr. Bruce A. Lucero, an abortion provider, has supported this legislation because "parents are usually the ones who can best help their teenager consider her options."
The need for this provision is illustrated by Marcia Carroll, who testified on behalf of H.R. 748 during a previous Congress. When Mrs. Carroll was asked why she came to testify on behalf of CIANA at a Congressional hearing on March 3, 2005, she described how her daughter, without her knowledge, was pressured by her boyfriend's stepfather to take a train and cross state lines and have an abortion she didn't want to have, and which she now regrets. Mrs. Carroll said, "[my daughter] does suffer. She has gone to counseling for this. I just know that she cries and she wishes she could redo everything, relive that day over. It's just sad that it had to happen this way and this is what she had to go through. But she did want me to come here today and speak on her behalf. She said, 'Mom, just one phone call is all it would have taken to stop this from happening ...' So she asked me to come here for her sake and for other girls' safety to speak and let you know what was happening."
The abortion provider who performed an abortion on Mrs. Carroll's daughter had a long history of abusing his patients. Mrs. Carroll should have been given an opportunity to learn about the history of her child's doctor, who had been professionally disciplined multiple times for having sex with a patient in his office, for performing "improper" rectal and breast exams on two others, and for indiscriminately prescribing controlled dangerous substances. The parents of this country should be given the chance to make sure their children's doctors are not potential sexual abusers and controlled substance pushers, and CIANA would give them that chance.
As Mrs. Carroll testified, "I felt safe when [the police] told me my minor daughter had to be ... of age in the State of Pennsylvania to have an abortion without parental consent ... It never occurred to me that I would need to check the laws of other States around me. I thought as a resident of the State of Pennsylvania that she was protected by Pennsylvania State laws. Boy, was I ever wrong."
Abortion provider Dr. Lucero has also supported this legislation because "patients who receive abortions at out-of-state clinics frequently do not return for follow-up care, which can lead to dangerous complications." And sure enough, the abortion provider who performed an abortion on Mrs. Carroll's daughter failed to schedule a follow-up visit with her to help ensure there were no post-abortion complications.
I thank our witnesses for joining us here today to discuss the need for the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which would go a long way toward restoring parental rights and protecting the health and safety of our children.
I know recognize the Ranking Member of the Full Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas, for an opening statement.
Republican Members are here today to support a bill on behalf of an American people who overwhelmingly support it. But we are here today at a Republican forum, rather than at an official Judiciary Committee hearing, because the Democratic majority has refused, to address an issue that polls show greatly concerns parents nationwide.
Let me begin to address this topic by providing a little context. Across the country, officials must obtain parental consent before including children in certain school activities such as field trips and contact sports.
In nearby Maryland, eleven school systems even require a parent's note before sunscreen can be applied to a minor student. And my own state of Texas, along with the large majority of states, requires parental consent before anyone can tattoo or put a body piercing on a minor under 18 years old.
Of course, abortion is a much more serious medical procedure. And most states--including my own state of Texas--have some form of parental involvement law that requires that at least one parent be given notice, or give consent, before their minor daughter receives an abortion.
Yet today, it remains legal for complete strangers to evade those state parental involvement laws by transporting minors across state lines to obtain secret abortions without the minor's parents ever knowing about it.
Because this shocking gap in the law involves interstate commerce, it can only be addressed by Congress under the Constitution. The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which passed the House overwhelmingly in the last Congress, would do just that, and ensure that state parental involvement laws are not evaded through interstate activity.
Parental involvement in the abortion decisions of minor girls will lead to improved medical care for minors seeking abortions, and provide increased protection for young girls against sexual exploitation by adult men.
Parental involvement ensures that parents have the opportunity to provide vital medical history and other information to abortion providers prior to the performance of an abortion. The medical, emotional and psychological consequences of an abortion are serious and lasting.
An adequate medical and psychological case history is critically important to any physician, and often only parents can provide such information for their daughters as well as any pertinent family medical history.
Parental involvement also improves medical treatment of pregnant minors by ensuring that parents have adequate knowledge to recognize and respond to any post-abortion complications that may develop.
Without the knowledge that their daughters have had abortions, parents are unable to ensure that their children obtain routine postoperative care and unable to provide an adequate medical history to physicians called upon to treat any complications that may arise. Such complications can be lethal if left untreated.
Finally, teenage pregnancies often occur as a result of predatory practices of men who are substantially older than the minor victim, resulting in the transportation of victims across state lines by an individual who has a great incentive to avoid criminal liability for his conduct.
Experience suggests that sexual predators recognize the advantage of their victims' obtaining an abortion. Not only does an abortion eliminate critical evidence of the criminal conduct, it allows the abuse to continue undetected.
Parental involvement laws ensure that parents have the opportunity to protect their daughters from those who would victimize them further, and only the bill under discussion today can do that.