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The Child Custody Protection Act is a federal bill that would prohibit anyone other than a parent from transporting a minor girl across a state line to obtain an abortion when doing so would circumvent a parental involvement law. Over half the states in the U.S. (including Texas) have enacted some type of parental involvement law mandating that a parent or guardian be notified before a minor undergoes an abortion. Tragically, some adult predators take minors across state lines to circumvent these parental involvement statutes. Indeed, many abortion clinics encourage such interstate activity and sometimes even run ads in neighboring states that enforce parental involvement laws (such as Texas). Welcoming minors across state lines for abortions protects sexual predators and puts young women at risk. The Child Custody Protection Act will prohibit the trafficking of minors across state lines for secret abortions.
Dr. Bruce Lucero, a pro-choice advocate who performed more than 45,000 abortions, clearly stated the need for parental involvement. “…in most cases a parent’s input is the best guarantee that a teen-ager will make a decision that is correct for her… And it helps guarantee that if a teen-ager chooses an abortion, she will receive appropriate medical care,” he wrote to the New York Times in 1998. He also explained that teenagers who seek abortions out of state often delay the procedure (when it is both more expensive and riskier), and they are less likely to return to clinics for follow-up care or tell their parents they are suffering complications. Dr. Lucero lobbied alongside Feminists for Life president Serrin Foster in support of the Child Custody Protection Act when it was first introduced.
The Child Custody Protection Act (S. 403) was approved 65-34 by the U.S. Senate in July 2006. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed his approval, stating: “What opponents of this bill forget is that no parent wants anyone to take their children across state lines—or even across the street—without their permission. This is a fundamental right, and the Congress is right to uphold it in law.”
This bill had already passed through the U.S. House of Representatives. The House has passed such legislation four times since 1998, only to be blocked by the Senate Democratic caucus each time.
The Child Custody Protection Act still faces a challenge, however. Since the Senate’s version of the bill differs from that of the House, these bills must proceed to a conference committee to reconcile these differences. However, when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) moved to appoint a conference committee, assistant Democratic leader Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) led a pro-abortion opposition to block this measure.
“Fourteen Democratic senators voted to pass the bill, but only minutes later the Democratic leaders began a new effort to kill the bill by objecting to the routine, necessary step of sending the bill to a conference committee,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. “The Senate Democratic leadership is now doing the bidding of the abortion lobby, obstructing legislation supported by the 80 percent of the public that believes parental notification laws protect vulnerable minors and the rights of parents.”
At a July 26 press conference, Republican Leader Frist said that he found the Democratic leadership tactic “very offensive,” and that he would if necessary force a “cloture” vote to force the legislation into a conference committee. Such a move would require additional days and 60 votes in support, he noted.