|For Immediate Release
March 27, 2012
Contact: Charlotte Sellmyer, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith
Full Committee Markup of
H.R. 2299, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA)
Chairman Smith: Across the country, officials must obtain parental consent before children can engage in school activities such as field trips and contact sports.
In nearby Maryland, school systems even require a parent's note before sunscreen can be applied to a student.
And a large majority of states requires parental consent before anyone can tattoo a minor.
Abortion is a serious, invasive, and potentially dangerous medical procedure. Most states have some form of parental involvement law that requires that at least one parent be given notice, or give their consent, before their minor daughter receives an abortion.
Yet today, it remains legal for complete strangers to evade those state parental involvement laws and transport minors across state lines to obtain secret abortions without the minor’s parents ever knowing about it.
Because this tragic gap in the law involves interstate commerce, under the Constitution only Congress can address it. The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act ensures state parental involvement laws are not evaded through interstate activity.
Parental involvement in the abortion decisions of minor girls leads to improved medical care for minors who seek abortions, and provides increased protection for young girls against sexual exploitation by adult men.
Parental involvement ensures that parents have the opportunity to provide medical history and other information to abortion providers prior to the performance of an abortion.
The medical, emotional and psychological consequences of an abortion are traumatic and lasting. An adequate medical and psychological case history is critically important to any physician, and often only parents can provide such information for their daughters as well as any suitable family medical history.
Parental involvement also improves medical treatment of pregnant minors. It ensures that parents have adequate knowledge to recognize and respond to any post-abortion complications that may develop.
Without the knowledge that their daughters have had abortions, parents are unable to ensure that their children obtain routine postoperative care.
Finally, teenage pregnancies often occur as a result of predatory practices of men who are usually much older than their minor victim. This results in the transportation of victims across state lines by an individual who has a great incentive to avoid criminal liability for his conduct.
Parental involvement laws ensure that parents have the opportunity to protect their daughters from those who would victimize them further, and the bill under discussion today does just that.
In 1979, the Supreme Court stated “Our jurisprudence historically has reflected Western civilization concepts of the family as a unit with broad parental authority over minor children” and that “The law’s concept of the family rests on a presumption that parents possess what a child lacks in maturity, experience, and capacity for judgment required for making life's difficult decisions.”
And in 2000, the Supreme Court described parents’ right to control the care of their children as “perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.”
H.R. 2299, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, provides parents with appropriate protections for their fundamental rights in two ways. First, it protects existing parental rights the states have seen fit to enforce. Second, it provides parents with additional federal protections that only Congress has the power to enact.
The House passed this legislation with large bipartisan support when it was last brought up by a vote of 270 to 157, with 54 Democrats in support of the measure. I hope and expect it will receive the same broad support this year.