In a 260-161 vote, the House yesterday passed the Child Custody Protection Act (HR 476), which would make it a federal crime for an adult to transport a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion if that adult is not the minor’s parent. The bill had strong support from the GOP but was vehemently opposed by pro-choice forces in the House because it did not offer protections to young girls who might otherwise seek dangerous illegal abortions in the face of parental consent laws. Pro-choice Democrats had offered several amendments to the bill, including one that would have exempted minors pregnant by a parent, guardian, or any household or family member from abiding by the bill’s requirements. This amendment, introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), was rejected 16-12 by the House Judiciary Committee last month. Another amendment, introduced by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) that would have allowed grandparents or adult siblings who carried minors across state lines to be exempted, was also rejected by a 16-11 vote in committee.
Nadler has been a vocal opponent of HR 476, saying, “It would also allow a father who raped his daughter to sue anyone who helped her deal with the consequences of his crime, because in the words of this bill, his rights have been violated.” Nadler has also suggested that the bill may violate the principle of federalism. “The question is whether the people of one state should be able to set the policy for people of other states,” said Nadler. “The federal government should not enable one state to hold another state’s citizens hostage.” The fate of the Child Custody Protection Act now rests with the Senate.
Media Resources: CQ Daily Monitor, 4/17/02; Associated Press, 4/17/02; Reuters Health, 3/21/02; Center for Reproductive Law and Policy Press Release, 3/20/02