Abortion bill puts teens' lives at stake

Frist and others want to toss grandmothers in jail for helping their granddaughters obtain an abortion

Published July 24, 2006 10:05PM (EDT)

Tomorrow, the Senate votes on a bill called the Child Custody Protection Act, or, as Planned Parenthood has more honestly dubbed it, the "Teen Endangerment Act." The bill, backed by Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist, would prohibit anyone other than a parent -- including a grandparent, clergy member, aunt, sibling or cousin -- from accompanying a young woman across state lines for an abortion if her home state's parental notification law has not been met.

Advocates say that most teenage girls do seek help from a parent when faced with an unintended pregnancy, and those who don't have good reasons not to. But instead of encouraging young women to seek guidance from other trusted adults, this bill would force them to face their abortion decision alone. Should this bill pass, a grandmother who simply accompanied her granddaughter to get an abortion could spend up to a year in jail, pay a steep fine and be subject to a civil lawsuit.

In an Op-Ed on TomPaine.com, NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan writes about Spring Adams, a 13-year-old from Idaho who was shot to death by her father when he learned she was trying to end a pregnancy that resulted from his incest. "If CCPA passes, trusted, caring and responsible adults would be faced with the threat of prosecution for responding to a young woman like Spring who approaches them because she fears involving her parent in her request for an abortion," Keenan writes.

This bill is not your standard-issue Republican attempt to make it as difficult as possible for women to get abortions -- this bill actually puts teens' lives at stake, even in cases that are far less extreme than Adams'. What if a young woman delays an abortion because she's afraid to tell a parent, or because a judicial bypass is not easy to get, and then all of a sudden it's too late to get one in her state? At least now, with the help of another adult, she might have the option of traveling to another state for an abortion. But if this bill passes, she won't have that choice, and will likely become a mother.

Take a minute to fight this bill by sending an e-mail to your senator.

By Lori Leibovich

Lori Leibovich is a contributing editor at Salon and the former editor of the Life section.

MORE FROM Lori Leibovich

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