Transporting Minors for Abortions to Be Illegal
The Senate yesterday overwhelmingly passed a law making it illegal to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion without parental consent.
The Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would make it a federal crime to help an under-age girl escape parental notification laws by crossing state lines to obtain an abortion. The bill was approved on a 65-to-34 vote, with 14 Democrats joining 51 Republicans in favor.
A similar measure passed the House last year, and President Bush said he would sign the legislation if the two chambers could work out their differences and send a final bill to him. In a statement, Mr. Bush said that “transporting minors across state lines to bypass parental consent laws regarding abortion undermines state law and jeopardizes the lives of young women.”
Indeed, it’s hard to fathom a reason to oppose this legislation. Whatever one’s views on abortion, surely kidnapping to accomplish it is a bad thing.
As always, theoretical hard cases are adduced:
Opponents said cases would inevitably arise in which a girl had been victimized by a relative, or in which parents were not available or did not have the girl’s best interest in mind. In those cases, they said, the legislation will pose a hardship or worse. “Life is not always the way we wish it to be,” said Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, who opposed the bill. “Sometimes tragedies happen, and sometimes families are not just negligent but abusive, and sometimes young girls are taken advantage of by members of their family, people in whom they should be able to trust.”
Yet, we do not ordinarily allow children to decide that parental decisions are bad, let alone have others take them across state lines to do what their parents have forbidden them to do. Further, the bill provides an exception for cases where “the abortion was necessary to save the life of the minor because her life was endangered by a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness, including a life endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”
Moreover, to pass Constitutional muster, parental notification laws must contain provisions for judicial intervention in such cases as described by Clinton. So, if a minor believes she would be subject to parental abuse if she disclosed her pregnancy, she has the option of bypassing her parents and going to a judge, who we trust to weigh these facts. We do not trust, for rather obvious reasons, minors to make such decisions on their own.