This week Senators Marco Rubio and Orrin Hatch introduced the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), which would make it a crime to take a teen across state lines to obtain an abortion if she's trying to evade parental notification laws in her home state. It would also require doctors performing abortions on out-of-state minors to notify the parents. The Senators say this will ensure state laws are being enforced. In actuality, it would put new hardships on teens in difficult situations.
The text of the bill hasn't been released yet, but Sen. Rubio said this in a press release:
"The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act would help prevent the evasion of parental consent and notification laws in 36 states," Senator Rubio said. "State parental involvement laws have been undermined and circumvented by those who simply travel to other states. It is important that this practice end permanently and states have the ability to enforce their laws."
"I'm proud to stand with Senator Rubio in introducing this important legislation that is based on the belief that children should not make profound life-changing decisions by themselves and that parents are the best and most responsible position to help them," said Hatch. "It includes appropriate exceptions and safeguards in order to focus on what unites the vast majority of Americans, that parents should be involved before their child has an abortion. This bill is a legitimate and constitutional way for Congress to help protect children and support parents."
It would be fantastic if all kids could make "profound life-changing decisions" with the help of their parents, but in many cases that isn't an option. The Senators would like people to imagine we're talking about a young hellion who simply doesn't want to consult with her loving and reasonable parents. In reality, studies have shown that 74% of 15-year-olds tell their parents they're getting an abortion and more than half of those who don't say they're afraid of abuse or eviction.
The legislation does note that it doesn't apply "in cases of medical emergency, abuse, or neglect," but it's unclear how that will be determined. To get around the law, would a teen fearing abuse have to report it to the doctor? Would gynecologists be expected to investigate the girl's claim before performing the procedure? The possibility of being prosecuted for performing abortions on teens who lie about their residency or family situation would probably make doctors more hesitant to perform abortions on minors. As RH Reality Check notes, this is "something the backers of this bill no doubt relish as an effect of the potential law."
The good news is that similar bills have already failed numerous times. The Florida Times-Union reports that nearly identical legislation was introduced during three of the past six sessions of Congress. Though, the bill is still concerning considering the Republicans' renewed efforts to pass anti-choice legislation. Douglas Johnson, the federal legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, says that the last time the legislation was introduced in 2005, the bill failed in the Senate by just three votes.
Rubio And Hatch Introduce The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act [Marco Rubio]
Child Interstate Abortion Act Introduced In Congress [RH Reality Check]
As Momentum Grows At State Level, Abortion Foes Bring National Spotlight To Jacksonville [Florida Times-Union]