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Senate Democratic Leadership Throws Up Roadblock to Parental Notification Legislation

Jul 27, 2006 | 2006 Press Releases

WASHINGTON (Updated July 27, 2006) — Despite a 65-34 vote in the U.S. Senate on July 25 to pass a bill to prohibit transporting minors across state lines for abortions in violation of parents’ rights, the Senate Democratic leadership immediately erected a procedural roadblock in an attempt to kill the bill.

The Senate turned aside all weakening amendments to the Child Custody Protection Act (S. 403), and voted 65-34 to approve the bill, which is strongly backed by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).  Immediately following the vote to pass the bill, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tn.) made a routine move to allow appointment of a conference committee to work out differences with a bill already passed by the House that contains different but related provisions.  This routine move was objected to, on behalf of Senate Democrats, by the assistant Democratic leader, Sen. Dick Durbin (Il.).

“Fourteen Democratic senators voted to pass the bill, but only minutes later the Democratic leaders began a new effort to kill the bill by objecting to the routine, necessary step of sending the bill to a conference committee,” said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.  “The Senate Democratic leadership is now doing the bidding of the abortion lobby, obstructing legislation supported by the 80 percent of the public that believes parental notification laws protect vulnerable minors and the rights of parents.”

The conference committee is necessary because the House passed a version of the bill (H.R. 748, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act) with some different provisions.

Johnson noted that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nv.) was among the 14 Democrats who voted to pass the bill, but said that the Democratic objection to going to conference would not have occurred if Reid disapproved of the move.  “This roadblock would be removed in a minute if Reid wanted it removed,” Johnson said.

The House of Representatives has passed such legislation four times since 1998.  Each time it has been killed by actions of the Senate Democratic caucus.

At a July 26 press conference, Republican Leader Frist said that he found the Democratic leadership tactic “very offensive,” and that he would if necessary force a “cloture” vote to force the legislation into a conference committee.  Such a move would require additional days and 60 votes in support, he noted.

Johnson noted that the purpose of the Democrats’ roadblock is to try to kill the bill by “running out the clock.”  Congress is in recess throughout August, and then return for about four weeks of work before adjourning.

More than half of the states have parental notification or parental consent laws in effect.  However, these laws are often circumvented when minors are transported to other states that do not have parental involvement requirements, often under pressure from older boyfriends or at the urging of abortion providers.  (To see a summary of the laws of each state, click here.) 

Under S. 403, it would be a federal offense to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion without fulfilling the requirements of a parental notification or consent law in effect in the home state.

Parental notification and parental consent laws are supported by overwhelming majorities of the public — exceeding 80% in some polls.  For a sampling of public opinion polls on this issue, please click here.

For additional information on the parental notification issue, visit the NRLC website page on parental notification here.