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Bill criminalizes out-of-state abortion for young women

On April 10, 2012

  • Ros-Lehtinen’s (foreground) CIANA bill will criminalize assistance to young women seeking abortion services outside their home states.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted 20-13 last week to advance an extreme bill that would criminalize assistance to young women seeking abortion services outside their home states due to threatening or other difficult situations at home - rejecting proposed amendments that would have protected victims of rape and incest, teens facing threats to their health, and grandparents and siblings helping their young family members.

The "Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act," or CIANA, imposes a mandatory parental notification and delay requirement on young women who seek abortion services outside of their home state. This would subject young women, abortion providers, and others who assist the women to a confusing maze of overlapping and conflicting state and federal laws - making it more difficult and more dangerous for young women to obtain abortions.

"This vote has exposed once again anti-choice lawmakers' deep hostility to women's rights and indifference to their health and well-being," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

"While offering their usual disingenuous claims that they are acting to protect women, they have hypocritically rejected all attempts to add even the bare minimum of measures to safeguard vulnerable young women's lives. This bill is an extreme assault on constitutionally protected rights that will put women's lives in grave danger. We call on Congress to reject it."

CIANA fails to consider the reasons why a teen would turn to another adult like her grandmother or adult sister for support, and could force young women to instead rely on an abusive caretaker, choose to travel alone or turn to unsafe alternatives to terminating her pregnancy.

Further, the proposed law does not include any exception for threats to a young woman's life or health, and imposes harsh civil and criminal liability on those who do help young women - with misdemeanor penalties that include up to a year in prison and fines of up to a $100,000.

Among the proposed amendments defeated by the committee:

An exception for grandparent or adult sibling accompanying a teen seeking an abortion;

An exception from the requirement teens must notify their parents of the procedure if it threatens minor's physical safety;

An exception for victims of rape and incest;

An exception for teens experiencing threats to their health.

Members who proposed such amendments include Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Hank C. Johnson (D-GA), Jerrod Nadler (D-NY), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Bobby C. Scott (D-VA), and Mel Watt (D-NC).

After the committee vote, the bill is expected to head to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl.) introduced the bill last June. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate. 

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