A federal bill to criminalize efforts
to help teens get an abortion
House activity: The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act
This act is a.k.a. The Teen Endangerment Act and CIANA.
Consent and notification laws have had the effect of reducing the
abortion rate in many states among young women under the age of 18. However, many teens
have simply crossed state lines and had an abortion in an adjacent jurisdiction which
such a law. Thus, the abortion rates in the 35 states that have implemented such a law
had tended to decrease, whereas adjacent
states see a relative increase.
Parental notification acts have strong general support from the American public. A Quinnipiac University poll of 1,534 voters was conducted from 2005-MAR-02 to 07.
They found that 75% supported and 18% opposed this type of law. 3
The margin of error was about ~+mn~2.6%
Previous to 2005, the House had considered a series of three federal parental
which would restrict the ability of teens to cross state lines to obtain an
abortion. The House passed such bills in 1998, 1999 and 2002. However, the
Senate has let all of them die. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced
Bill 748 in 2005. It is the fourth in the series, and is called The Teen Endangerment Act.
3 The text of the bill is available
The National Right to Life Committee strongly supported the bill. 3 They note that state parental
consent laws "...are often circumvented by interstate transportation of minors,
and Congress has a duty to regulate this interstate activity, which is the sole
purpose and effect of the CIANA." They opposed adding a health exemption to CIANA
because the "...term 'health' is often construed to include alleviation of
emotional distress and thereby could be employed to cover any abortion."
The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the bill, commenting that:
"Bill 748 imposes a mandatory parental notification requirement and
waiting period on a young woman who needs abortion services in a state where
she does not reside, even if neither her state of residence nor the state
where she seeks an abortion has enacted a parental notification law.
Moreover, the bill creates two new federal crimes. First, it forces doctors,
under the threat of federal criminal prosecution, to comply with an onerous
legal scheme mandating that an out-of-state teen's parents be notified of
her decision to have an abortion. Second, H.R. 748 would make it a federal
crime for a person other than a parent -- including a grandmother, aunt,
sibling, or clergy member -- to help a teen cross certain state lines for an
abortion unless the teen had already fulfilled the requirements of her home
state's law restricting teens' abortions." 1
The bill has no exemption in cases where an
abortion is needed to preserve the woman's health, even if an abortion is needed
to prevent permanent disabling injury. It requires doctors to become expert on
every state's parental notification requirements, because she or he would have
to meet the laws of both the state where the abortion is to be performed, and
the laws in the woman's residence. The doctor is required to notify parents in
person. They might have to "...travel hundreds of miles out of state in order
to comply....H.R. 748 ...deprives teens of their right to travel to
engage in conduct legal in another state. Moreover, H.R. 748 violates the
sovereignty of those states that have invalidated, rejected, or chosen not to
enact parental involvement laws by imposing a federal notification requirement
on certain (but not all) minors in that state."
The bill provides for certain exceptions:
When the abortion is needed to save the life of the woman.
When the woman can prove that a court in her home state waived
When the woman says that she is a victim of sexual abuse by a parent
and can prove that she has reported the abuse to the police in her
Democratic amendments would have excepted from prosecutions grandparents,
clergy, bus drivers, taxicab drivers. ABC News reported that: "Democrats complained that their efforts to
soften the bill, for example, by exempting from prosecution adult siblings
and grandparents who help pregnant minors, were described in the
GOP-authored committee report as efforts to protect 'sexual predators'."
ABC News also reported that:
Opponents say any gains the bill might make would be dwarfed by
health, abuse and legal problems that pregnant girls and their
well-meaning confidants might suffer.
Bebe J. Anderson, a lawyer at the Center for Reproductive Rights,
said it would produce "a confusing maze of requirements ... designed
to isolate some teens and leave others with no safe options."
"No matter how few people it affects, it's an important bill on
the principles," said Frist (R-TN) 2
The bill passed in the House on
2005-APR-27 by a vote of 270 to 157. 216 Republicans and 54 Democrats voted
in favor; 145 Democrats, 11 Republicans and one independent voted against.
95% of the Republicans supported the bill; 73% of the Democrats opposed it. 5
President Bush praised the House for their action.
He said: "The parents of pregnant minors can provide counsel, guidance
and support to their children and should be involved in these decisions. I
urge the Senate to pass this important legislation and help continue to
build a culture of life in America."
6 None of the previous attempts have
been taken up by the Senate. However, this was on the Republican's top ten
list of legislative priorities.
On 2005-JUL-11, the bill was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. 5
Bill S. 403, the Child Custody Protection Act would have required a
young woman under the age of 18 to inform at least one parent before she
obtained an abortion in another state if her home state had a law requiring
parental notification. The intent of the bill was to prevent young women from
traveling to another state which lacked such a law in order to obtain an
abortion without informing their parents. The bill was originally passed by the
Senate on 2006-JUL-25 with a vote of 65 to 34.
Shortly before Congress adjourned on SEP-29, 57 senators voted on whether to remove the
final procedural obstacle to the bill so that President Bush could sign it into
law. However, 60 "cloture votes" were required to end a filibuster. Fifty one out
of 55 Republicans and 6 of the 45 Democrats voted in favor of the bill.
The above essay is for informational purposes only. It is not to be
interpreted as legal or medical advice.
The following source of information was used in the preparation and
updating of this essay. The Internet link is not necessarily still intact.
Laura Murphy & Gregory Nojeim, "ACLU Letter to the House of
Representatives Urging Opposition to the Teen Endangerment Act (H.R. 748),"
American Civil Liberties Union, 2005-APR-26, at:
Laurie Kellman, "House OKs Bill Toughening Abortion Consent. House
Passes Bill That Would Make It Illegal to Take Minors Across State Lines for
Abortions," Associated Press, 2005-APR-28, at:
Douglas Johnson & Patricia Coll, Letter to members of Congress, National
Right to Life, 2005-APR-22, at: