“The Grandmother Incarceration Act”

President Bush, “who comments on only a small fraction of bills that pass either chamber [of Congress],” took the rare step of endorsing the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act and urging the Senate to take up the bill. The legislation would make it a “federal crime — complete with possible fines and jail sentences — for doctors or other adults to help patients under 18 evade parental-notification requirements by crossing state lines for an abortion.” The right’s reflexive reaction to anyone in opposition of this bill is to echo the same words that they used to champion the bill: it is a “recognition of parental authority.” But courtesy of the ACLU, here are just a few of the very justified concerns about the legislation:

No Exceptions: The bill “does not contain any exception whatsoever for when an abortion is necessary to protect a young woman’s health. It thus bars a teen from obtaining a medically necessary abortion unless she is able to comply with the bill’s tangled requirements.” [For understandable reasons, the Supreme Court established a precedent that “any parental restriction on abortion must contain an exception to protect the health of a minor.” Again, this bill contains no such exception.]

No Exceptions, Part Two: The bill would make it a federal crime for any person other than a parent to “help a teen cross certain state lines for an abortion.” There is no exception for other family members — aunts and uncles, siblings, or grandparents — social workers, nor clergy members.

The Fake Exception: The bill provides “no safety net for the most vulnerable teens.” Its so-called exception for “teen victims of certain forms of abuse only applies if the young woman ‘declares in a signed written statement that she is the victim of abuse,’” even though many abuse victims are too ashamed or scared to do such a thing. Even then, the “bill requires the doctor to notify the authorities of the abuse before the abortion is performed,” which still leaves the teen in the bind of her parents discovering the abortion.


“Recognition of parental authority”…unless they’re wrong: “The bill requires a 24-hour waiting period and written notification, with no medical emergency exception, even if a parent accompanies his or her daughter to an out-of-state abortion provider and consents to the abortion services.”