New Act Prohibits Minors Traveling for Abortions

| Wed Jun. 22, 2011 7:13 PM EDT

Teens crossing state lines to get an abortion are the target of a new bill introduced today. The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA) looks fairly comprehensive and serious so far, though full text of the bill (S.1241) has not yet been released. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), however, did provide a joint press release that outlined the bill's main points. To summarize, the bill would:

--"prohibit... knowingly taking a minor across state lines with the intent of obtaining an abortion if this action evades the parental notification law in her home state." This could significantly increase the cost of travel for teens seeking an abortion. If a girl lived near a state border, she would be forced to seek an abortion in her state, even if there was a major city just on the other side of the river. In some states without much abortion access, this could be a real hardship.

--"would require abortion providers to notify a parent of an out-of-state minor before performing an abortion." Again, this could cause hardship on the girl getting an abortion because of the time involved for the provider to find and contact her parent. Also, what if the teen had a judicial bypass in her home state? Would it be honored?

--"CIANA allows for punishment, in the form of fines or imprisonment, of physicians who knowingly perform an abortion on a minor who has traveled across state lines..." As RH Reality Check points out, this bill could make providers more leery of performing abortions on girls at all. And it makes it in the best interests of the girl to lie about her residency or about the circumstances of her pregnancy.

On a legal note, it doesn't seem to be fair to ask one state to enforce every other state's laws. For example, you can buy raw milk all over California but it's strictly controlled in Oregon. It is not the job of all California retailers to do background checks to make sure everyone buying raw milk in California lives in California, or that the raw milk an Oregonian is buying would be legal by Oregon's standards. California is governed by California's laws. What CIANA seems to want to do is make doctors adhere not only to their own state's laws, but become legal experts and adhere to every other state's laws on parental consent and notification, which by the way, are constantly changing. Sen. Rubio says that the bill helps guarantee "states have the ability to enforce their laws" but it seems like he wants states to enforce other states' laws as well and punish them if they don't.

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