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Lawmakers Introduce Parental Notification Bill on Abortion

LawsIn many regions across the country, a school nurse must first receive parental consent before dispensing an aspirin to a student. Tattoo artists in many cases also must obtain parental consent before inking body art on a minor. Ditto for ear piercing. Abortion, however, is often an entirely different matter.

While more than 30 states require some form of parental notification before an abortionist may perform an abortion on a minor—a policy supported by over 70 percent of Americans—young girls are often taken across state lines for abortions without parental knowledge in circumvention of such laws in their home states.

Now some lawmakers in both the House and Senate are working to bring this evasion of the law and parental involvement to an end.

On Thursday, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), along with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (F-FL), introduced the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which offers a two-fold, common sense response. First, the bill would prohibit transporting a minor across states lines for an abortion in evasion of parental notification laws in the girl’s home state. Second, it would require an abortionist to notify a parent before performing an abortion on an out-of-state minor.

“This important bill would help to protect the health and safety of young girls and allow parents to continue to play a vital role in the lives of their daughters,” Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote Thursday to Sens. Rubio and Hatch and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen in a letter of support for the bill.

“We find it unconscionable that minors are allowed to evade their home state’s parental involvement laws,” Land added. “Further, we are greatly alarmed that in many cases parents, who are responsible for protecting and providing for their children, are not even notified that their underage daughter will undergo an abortion by an out-of-state abortion provider.”

Largely at issue is the protection of young girls from being coerced by adults, including older boyfriends, who want to cover up unplanned pregnancies. Also at stake is protection of the rights of parents to be involved in perhaps the most consequential decision of their child—the future of the unborn child in the womb of their child.

CIANA, as the bill is known, is familiar legislation to the pro-life community. In 2005, the House passed the measure with 270 votes. For its part, the Senate passed a narrower version of the bill, 65-34, but then fell three votes short of the 60 needed on a procedural vote on the House-passed bill. CIANA thus died an unfortunate death.

Sen. Rubio and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen reintroduced CIANA in the last Congress with strong support—the Senate bill had 32 cosponsors and the House version had 172 cosponsors—though unfortunately the measure did not receive a vote in either the House or Senate before the 2011-2012 session ended.

The ERLC joins lawmakers supportive of CIANA in hoping this year will yield a different, promising outcome on the measure.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention that is dedicated to addressing social and moral concerns and their implications on public policy issues from City Hall to Congress. The SBC is the largest non-Catholic denomination in the country with over 16 million members.

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