Fw: now-action-list Urgent: Bill Threatens Safety of Young Women (fwd)
Tracy Gonos and Paul Hayes
Fri Jun 19 20:17:16 CDT 1998
Thought this would be of interest to many on the listserv.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 16:15:06 -0400
From: National Organization for Women <now at now.org>
To: now-action-list at now.org
Subject: now-action-list Urgent: Bill Threatens Safety of Young Women
Feel free to forward the following to activists in its entirety or with
>From the National Organization for Women Action Center:
URGENT ACTION ALERT
June 11, 1998
BILL THREATENS THE SAFETY OF YOUNG WOMEN
Very shortly, Congress will vote on a bill (S.1645/H.R. 3682) that would
make it a federal crime for anyone to transport a minor across state lines
for an abortion, unless the young woman already satisfied the requirements
of her home state's parental notification and involvement laws. This bill,
proposed by Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI), would not only deny young women
help from adults they trust but could also endanger their health and
violate the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
This legislation, known as the Child Custody Protection Act or -- as a New
York Times editorial termed it -- the Teen Endangerment Act, would allow
for the prosecution and jailing of grandparents, aunts, uncles, ministers,
close friends, siblings and de facto or temporary guardians who transport a
minor across state lines to obtain an abortion. According to this bill,
adults who aid these young women in their time of crisis would be guilty of
a federal crime and, if convicted, fined or jailed for a year!
It is unlikely that the Teen Endangerment Act would encourage more positive
parental involvement in a young woman's decision to obtain an abortion. In
most cases, young women (nearly 61%) consult with their parents regarding
their decision to obtain an abortion, regardless of whether they are
required by law to have such a discussion. Of those who do not talk about
their choice with their parents, many fear abusive repercussions. This
bill will not compel young women who do not already consult their parents
to do so. Instead, minors pursue other options, including: going out of
state alone to abort, delaying the procedure or obtaining an illegal and
In promoting this restrictive legislation, abortion opponents have cited a
1995 case in upstate Pennsylvania as an illustration of why such a bill is
needed. In this case, a woman transported a 13-year-old girl to
Binghamton, New York for an abortion. The girl's boyfriend was the woman's
19 year-old stepson, who later accepted a guilty plea to statutory rape.
Although, this incident was regrettable because of the tender ages of the
couple, the Child Custody Protection Act, if it had been law at the time,
would have not provided any good solutions.
The bill seeks to protect the safety of minors; it instead causes them
undue harm by endangering their health and interfering with their
constitutional right to an abortion. We know from the Becky Bell case that
young women have lost their lives because of a reluctance to tell their
parents. The Indiana teen was 17 when she discovered she was pregnant. The
parental notification law in that state required her to tell her parents
which she felt she could not. Becky also believed that consulting with a
judge, under the state's judicial bypass provision, was not an option for
her, either. Becky Bell resorted to an unsafe ~Qback alley' abortion which
resulted in the her tragic death due to uncontrolled hemorrhaging.
Twenty-two states have laws requiring teens to notify their parents (or
consult a judge) before getting an abortion. Consequently, teen-agers who
believe that they can't tell their parents now cross state lines to obtain
an abortion. Any adult who assists them -- grandparents, counselors,
religious advisors, and even single parents, in some cases -- will face
going to jail for this caring effort!
How you can help:
Please call your U.S. Representative as soon as possible and ask him or her
to vote against the Child Custody Protection Act (H.R. 3682/S. 1645). A
House Judiciary Subcommittee is completing work on the legislation
Thursday, June 11th, and the full committee is expected to take it up soon.
The schedule for the bill in the Senate has not been announced, but will
probably begin in July. The anti-abortion majority leadership in Congress
has vowed to have this bill on the President's desk by the August recess..
In addition to the fast track in Congress for the legislation, President
Clinton has been reticent to disclose his position on the Child Custody
Protection Act. Activists should call the White House and ask the
President to oppose this legislation.. You can refer to it as the Teen
Endangerment Act, if you like, since that seems more appropriate.
The Child Custody Protection Act endangers the health of young women and is
unconstitutional. It should be defeated. President Clinton (
mailto:president at whitehouse.gov ) needs to let Congress know that he will
veto this terrible bill. The main number for Congress is (202) 224-3121,
and the operator will connect you with your U.S. Representative. The White
House comment line is (202) 456-1111. Connect to
http://www.visi.com/juan/congress for congressional fax, phone and email
See http://www.now.org/conference for information about the 1998 NOW
Women's Rights Convention and Vision Summit
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