- Obvious fact #1: Young people should be safe with their parents.
- Obvious fact #2: Young people are not always safe with their parents.
- Obvious fact #3: Whether or not a young woman is, in fact, safe with her parents, she may not trust them enough to tell them that she wants to have an abortion.
- Obvious fact #4: If a young woman trusts her parents enough to tell them that she wants to have an abortion, she will tell them.
- Obvious fact #5: If a young woman does not trust her parents enough to tell them that she wants to have an abortion, she is left with two options: Have a child she does not want while living with parents she does not trust, or obtain an abortion without her parents’ knowledge and consent.
- Obvious fact #6: The second option requires that, if the young woman lives in a state with parental consent laws, she must travel across state lines.
Meet the disingenuously titled Child Custody Protection Act. Read it. It’s short.
Now, in the transcript of the 2004 Judiciary Committee hearing on this bill, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama claims that this legislation “is not about abortion. It is about the custody rights of parents.” Yet he goes on to cite the Mann Act (also charmingly known as the White Slave Traffic Act), which originally prohibited the transport of women across state lines for prostitution (and other “immoral purposes”), as well as Federal criminal statutes prohibiting the transport of stolen vehicles across state lines. Both of which are illegal. Which abortion isn’t. Yet.
Further evidence that this law is, in fact, about abortion, may be seen in the decision to insert it immediately after Title 18, Section 117 of the U.S. Code – which is the Mann Act, as amended in the ’70s. This Section has been updated, and is currently entitled TRANSPORTATION FOR ILLEGAL SEXUAL ACTIVITY AND RELATED CRIMES. The Child Custody Protection Act is now Section 117a.
And just in case you weren’t yet completely cynical about the true motives of our noble political representatives, the Senate rejected a proposed amendment to the bill by New Jersey Senators Lautenberg and Menendez, which would have created teen pregnancy prevention programs which taught contraceptive methods in addition to abstinence. Because, y’know, that would encourage twelve-year-olds to fuck horses. Or something.
Oh – and it completely violates federalism in ways best explained by this ACLU memo.