ACLU Denounces Teen Endangerment Act; Calls on House to Reject Dangerous and Extreme Measure

March 17, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Subcommittee today approved the Teen Endangerment Act, a dangerous measure that would restrict a teenager’s ability to obtain an abortion outside of her home state with or without her parents’knowledge. The American Civil Liberties Union warned that the legislation would put vulnerable young women at risk.

“This act ignores the plight of young women who need support the most,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “It forces teens from troubled families into dangerous situations and in some instances, even where good family communication exists, delays care.”

The “Teen Endangerment Act” (H.R. 748), called the “Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act” by its sponsors, requires young women who need an abortion in a state other than their home state to notify their parents. It contains no exception for when an abortion may be necessary to protect a teen’s health. And it requires a 24-hour waiting period and written notification even if a parent accompanies his or her daughter to an out-of-state abortion provider.

The bill would also make it a 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 her home state’s teen abortion restriction.

“The Act creates a confusing maze of requirements throughout the country,” said Murphy. “It imposes extra hurdles on some teens and leaves some with no safe options.”

According to an analysis prepared by the ACLU, the legislation also ironically violates core constitutional principles of federalism that are often espoused in other contexts by avowed supporters of this bill. It supplants the laws in many states in this country that do not impose additional restrictions on teenagers seeking abortions.

The ACLU also said the bill would have no effect on the number of pregnant teenagers who tell their parents about their decision to have an abortion. Studies show that most teenagers already inform their parents of their decision.

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