The House Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee heard testimony from both supporters and critics of H.R. 1218, the so-called “Child Custody Protection Act.” The Act would ban adults from helping minors to avoid abortion parental consent laws in their home states by transporting them to a neighboring state for the procedure. Persons found guilty of violating the Act could be subject to fines, imprisonment, and civil suits.
Advocates of the ban testified that the Act is necessary to protect parental rights and to protect girls from older men, who may coerce them into aborting unwanted pregnancies. Opponents of the ban argued that the Act was an attempt to weaken women’s constitutional right to abortion and would endanger the health of young women by delaying abortion procedures, by encouraging young women to seek out unsafe, “back-alley” abortions, or by forcing young women to seek an abortion alone, without the aid of a trusted adult.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Gloria Feldt also criticized the measure’s “restrictive definition of what constitutes the American family,” and lamented the fact that, under the Act, “Grandmothers, aunts, and other family members could risk prison merely by assisting a grandchild or niece who had come to them for help.”