The US Senate passed the Teen Endangerment Act late last night, a bill that would make it a federal crime for any person other than a parent or legal guardian to accompany a minor across state lines to have an abortion. The law, officially called the Child Custody Protection Act, would make it illegal for anyone, including a grandparent, aunt, or other trusted adult, to transport a pregnant teen out of a state to avoid the home state’s parental notification and/or consent law. The bill was passed 65-to-34, with 14 Democrats voting for the measure.
Opponents of the bill argue that it places an undue burden on teenage girls from dysfunctional family situations, where consulting with a parent could lead to abuse. Said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, “Life is not always the way we wish it to beÉ. [Sometimes] families are not just negligent but abusive, and sometimes young girls are taken advantage of by members of their family, people in who they should be able to trust,” according to the Washington Post. Under this law, non-parental adults who help pregnant young women avoid parental notification laws by helping them cross state lines could be fined and incarcerated for up to a year.
The House of Representatives passed similar legislation in April of 2005, though significant differences exist between the House and Senate versions. President Bush has said he will sign the legislation should the House and Senate be able to reconcile their differences.