House Advances Abortion Bill Blocking Interstate Travel If Parents Are Not Present

Across the country, conservatives have been pushing legislation designed to make obtaining an abortion as difficult as possible. In some cases, that means the best option for a woman seeking the procedure is to travel to a state with less restrictive regulations. If some lawmakers get their way, that could become more difficult.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives advanced the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA) out of the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 20-13. The legislation, which has 158 House co-sponsors, would impose jail sentences on doctors who perform abortions on out-of-state minors if a parent is not present. While the bill’s sponsor Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) claimed the bill was designed to protect the right of parents “to be involved in their children’s lives,” its supporters do not appear to be concerned with protecting teenagers:

The committee rejected several proposed amendments that would have provided exceptions for victims of rape or incest, women facing threats to their health, and grandparents and older siblings trying to accompany their family members to abortion clinics. […]

Opponents of the bill argue that it fails to consider the extenuating circumstances in which a teen would turn to another adult — such her grandmother or adult sister — for support, and could force young women to instead turn to unsafe alternatives to terminating her pregnancy.

This bill hampers a woman’s right to choose without offering any protections for extreme circumstances. A girl whose parents were “absent or abusive,” according to the Huffington Post, would still need to seek their help in obtaining an abortion, even if she had been raped or was facing a medical emergency.

The bill now heads to the full House for a vote. It remains unclear whether it will face a vote in the Senate, even though a companion bill has been introduced.

Zachary Bernstein