The Teens, Schmeens Act: What next?

The Senate and House versions of the parental-notice bill must be reconciled. How, and how badly, we may not know anytime soon.

Published July 26, 2006 8:07PM (EDT)

Here's a bit more, as promised, on the future of the Child Custody Protection Act.

Oh, but first, a tidbit I'd heretofore spared you. Here's what President Bush, commenting from a visit to Opposite World, had to say about the law: "Transporting minors across state lines to bypass parental consent laws regarding abortion undermines state law and jeopardizes the lives of young women." See, because state law is best protected by legislation that forces State X to abide by the law of State Y, and because young women are best protected by legislation that forces them to disclose a pregnancy to an abusive parent, or to become teenage mothers themselves. (I know. We should have expected better?)

Anyway, back to the CCPA, which is the Senate version of the slightly less slickly titled Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act passed by the House in April. In addition to making it a federal crime -- punishable by up to a year in prison, a fine of $100,000 or both -- for anyone other than a minor's parent to take her across state lines for an abortion, CIANA also requires doctors to give parents 24 hours' notice about a minor requesting an abortion out of state, or else be subject to criminal prosecution or civil action by the family. In effect, this provision sets up a national parental-notification law.

So how will the two versions be reconciled? Well, it remains to be seen just what kind of scary Franken-bill will emerge, and when. Yesterday, Sen. Bill Frist was positively itching to get into conference and hammer it out; Sen. Dick Durbin was able to hold him off. It's not clear what opponents of the law on the Hill can do in the meantime, but for now, we'll at least take some stalling while they figure it out. Which just gives you more time to let lawmakers know how you feel.

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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