You may be a criminal if . . .

. . . You help your sister get an abortion without telling your parents.

  • 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.

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7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Andrea said,

    What if a young woman and her friend just happen to, say, visit a bloggy friend in another state or, oh I don’t know, Canada maybe? And while they’re there, though it’s just for a visit, they just happen to come across an abortion clinic?

  2. 2

    miss kendra said,

    the part about where this legislation lives is very scary.

  3. 3

    Laurie Ann said,

    I’m disturbed. My brother-in-law will not let my niece go on the pill because it will “encourage them to have sex.” Well, they’re already having sex, with or without encouragement. The pill would just give them all some peace of mind. And I can guaran-damn-tee that if she came home pregnant, he’d be pissed as all get out and NOT allow her to have an abortion. I would risk the jail time to help my niece obtain an abortion.

  4. 4

    Cheryl said,

    But don’t get your ears pierced without the parents signature and/or showing ID.

  5. 5

    Stacey said,

    Hey there – just clicked the link I saved with your name and found you here. It never ceases to amaze me the things we take issue with and make laws about… Oh yea – and delighted to see you are still around!

  6. 6

    nora said,

    I have to say that I used to identify myself quite honestly as being “pro-life” and this exploitation of young girls for political gain is a major reason why I’ve moved farther center on this issue. That and the fact that the more I learn about human rights violations around the world the more clear it is that the worse the human rights record the more likely women are either forced to have babies or forced not to have them. I also had a friend who was forced to abort at 3 months because of a health problem that would have resulted in a stillbirth– it scares me that humanitarian decisions are being legislated against in the name of righteousness. Its also very frustrating because I don’t see what those who are pushing this type of legislative change are doing for the babies born to 12 year olds once they actually are born. I think Dennis Kucinich moved along a similar journey to mine on this issue, I’m sure there are others.

    My fantasy is that one day I’ll turn on the news and the leaders of NOW and Birthright will be announcing new legislation for a better foster care system, universal healthcare, contraceptive education… One can dream…

  7. 7

    […] Prop 85: HELL, NO. Parental notification for abortion. Please see my opinions on this here. Oh, and I would just like to add that I am baffled by the repeated airing of the musty old “Abortions protect older men who abuse young girls” argument. Because forcing young girls to carry their abusers’ babies to term will somehow help? […]


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