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Subcommittee Examines Child Custody Protection Act

On February 7, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution gave voice vote approval to legislation (H.R. 476) that would prohibit the transportation of a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion, thereby evading parental consent laws.

Subcommittee Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH) noted that the Child Custody Protection Act “seeks to protect the health and safety of young girls, as well as the rights of parents to be involved in the medical decisions of their minor daughters, by preventing valid and constitutional state parental involvement laws from being circumvented.” Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said the law was unconstitutional because “whether people of one state should be able to set the policies…of other states” is questionable.

Under the bill, sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), any individual who knowingly transports a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion, and circumvents the state’s parental consent laws, would be subject to a fine or one year in jail. H.R. 476 also would allow individuals charged with the crime to use as an affirmative defense that they “reasonably believed, based on information…obtained directly from a parent of the individual or other compelling facts” that they had complied with a state’s parental consent law.

Although the House has approved the Child Custody Protection in the past, it has yet to be approved by the Senate.

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