See ya, CIANA

Senate Dems block vote on "Teen Endangerment Act."

Published October 4, 2006 12:19PM (EDT)

Just to make sure you'd heard this: Despite Bill Frist's noblest eleventh-hour efforts to protect teens and families -- I'm sorry, to mollify his "base," the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), recently and fishily revived in the House, was blocked on Friday by Senate Democrats, including several who'd earlier supported it. Frist, reportedly under explicit pressure by groups like the Family Research Council, had barreled ahead with a cloture motion -- debate, schmebate! -- for the Senate to proceed with a vote on the bill itself. But the motion, requiring 60 votes, fell short by three.

The eight Democrats who "flip-flopped," this time voting, in effect, to kill the requirement: Ken Salazar (Colo.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Evan Bayh (Ind.), Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan (N.D.), and Herb Kohl (Wis.). Dems who voted yea twice: Mark Pryor (Ark.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Harry Reid (Nev.), Tim Johnson (S.D.) and Robert Byrd (W.Va.); Republicans opposing the bill were Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (Maine), and Arlen Specter (Pa.).

It's unclear whether those who changed their minds were resisting Frist's steamrolling, responding to their constituents or finally understanding that -- while, yes, teens and parents should (and most often do) communicate healthily about such decisions -- legislating such things does far more harm than good. (Maybe they and others even finally figured out that parental involvement laws, an easily spun sell to voters, are so transparently illogical that they are obviously nothing but measures designed to increase political capital by complicating access to abortion ... for those who don't yet vote.) Whatever happened, a bullet was dodged; a surefire signer was kept off the president's desk. For now.

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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