ACLU Urges Defeat of Teen Endangerment Act; Says Anti-Abortion Measure Puts Vulnerable Lives at Serious Risk

February 7, 2002 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States


WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union today urged the defeat of a controversial piece of legislation, dubbed the “Teen Endangerment Act,” that would put the lives of vulnerable young women at risk and threatens to turn caring adults into criminals.

“This bill threatens the health and welfare of America’s young women,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU’s Washington National Office. “Trusted adults coming to the aid of teenagers in crisis should not have to act outside the law.”

The bill (HR 476) would make it a federal crime for a person, other than a parent, to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion unless the minor had already fulfilled the requirements of her home state’s parental involvement law. The bill, which was introduced last year by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), is scheduled for markup in the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House Judiciary Committee today. Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in both the 105th and 106th Congresses but never became law.

The ACLU said that if the bill were to become law, teenagers would be denied the counsel and support of trusted family members or friends when seeking an abortion out of state. The bill only allows parents to travel with their child; other family members such as grandparents or aunts and uncles would be subject to criminal prosecution.

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 voluntarily inform their parents of their decision and that those that do not are compelled by tragic circumstances such as incest or domestic violence.

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.

“What supporters of this bill don’t understand is that young women facing the stress of an unwanted pregnancy must have a shoulder to lean on,” Murphy said. “The ‘Teen Endangerment Act’ would cause young women in crisis to be abandoned.”

The ACLU’s Analysis of the “Teen Endangerment Act” can be found at: /ReproductiveRights/ReproductiveRights.cfm?ID=256&c=145

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release