A bill that advanced past the House Judiciary Committee today aims to make it illegal for anyone who is not a pregnant teen's parent to transport her across state lines for the purposes of obtaining an abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or threats to a girl's health. Opponents of the measure are calling it the "Arrest Grandma" Act, but it could just as easily be called "Arrest The Terrified But Supportive Boy Who Knocked You Up" Act. No matter how you swing it, it sucks.
The bill, sponsored by Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is officially known as the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, and, in the words of Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, it aims to enshrine the rights of parents to be "involved in their children's lives." Even if that statement weren't a blatant lie, it'd would be laughably impractical. In almost every circumstance, a teen who is pregnant became that way during a moment that her parents were not involved in her life. And teens estranged enough from their parents that they fear to seek their help in obtaining an abortion cannot have their damaged parent-child relationship restored with legislation.
CIANA — like a disturbing number of bills introduced in the last two years — only pretends it's looking out for the interest of the mother, the pregnancy, or the parents of the pregnant mother, when it's really only looking out for the re-election prospects of the lawmakers with constituents interested in restricting abortion.
This law has serious implications for teens who grow up in places like my hometown — remote rural areas located across the border from the nearest major city, and several hours from the nearest in-state major city. It's also particularly heartless in its refusal to acknowledge the fact that teens are sometimes raised by someone other than their parent, or that sometimes teens have parents who can't spare the time or resources to drive them to the nearest abortion clinic, if the closest clinic is the next state over. And lawmakers' refusal to make exceptions for teens pregnant because of rape or incest or in the case of medical emergency demonstrates particular callousness or cluelessness.
Like many of these anti-choice bits of political theater, the bill likely won't become law, but that doesn't make it any less depressing. It's not a proper 2012 weekday without some news that will bum your vagina right out.