Communications Department

Senator Lincoln on parental notification for abortion

Sep 13, 2010 | Parental Involvement

Senator Lincoln on parental notification for abortion —
out of step with Arkansas and all other members of
the Arkansas congressional delegation

By Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director, National Right to Life Committee

September 13, 2010

WASHINGTON — In an inexplicable move, perhaps born of desperation, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) clumsily interjected the issue of parental notification for abortion into a debate with her challenger, Congressman John Boozman (R), on September 10.

Inexplicable — and a clear blunder — because the likely effect is to draw attention to Lincoln’s voting record on the issue of parental notification for abortion. Lincoln has consistently voted against legislation to protect the rights of parents to be notified before their minor daughters are subjected to abortion. Her votes on the issue were directly opposite those cast by all other members of the Arkansas congressional delegation, both Democrats and Republicans, and are far out of step with public opinion.

Lincoln said, “Congressman, you have voted to protect the rights of fathers who committed rape or incest against a minor that resulted in a pregnancy, to be able to sue the doctor who performed an abortion on that victim.” When Boozman asked, “What bill are you talking about?” Lincoln replied, “I don’t have the number with me, but we have it in our research and I’ll be glad to provide it to you.”

It turns out that the specific subject of Lincoln’s remarks was a parental notification bill considered during 2005-2006, usually referred to as the “Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act” (CIANA, pronounced “see-ANNA”). The bill had two parts. One part made it a federal offense for an unauthorized non-parent to transport a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion, if this abridged her parent’s right to be notified or give consent under the home state law. The second part required an abortionist to notify one parent before performing an abortion on a minor who is a resident of a different state. There were a number of exceptions to each part.

The bill also authorized parents to sue persons who violated their rights under the bill. When the House of Representatives debated the bill (then numbered H.R. 748) on April 27, 2005, a bill opponent made a motion to “recommit” the bill to committee in order to exclude father-rapists from the scope of the right to sue.

The motion was rejected on a vote mostly along party lines, after bill supporter Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wi.) pointed out that no incestuous father could pursue such a lawsuit without incriminating himself. Boozman voted against the hostile motion, which was the subject of Lincoln’s remarks during the debate. Boozman then voted to pass the bill — as did the other three members of the Arkansas House delegation, all Democrats. (House roll call no. 144) The bill passed, 270-157.

The Senate later (July 25, 2006) passed a narrower parental notification bill (S. 403), which contained only the anti-transportation provisions, not the abortionist-notification requirements. Although this bill was much more modest than the bill that all four Arkansas House members had voted to pass, and even though it contained new language (the Ensign-Boxer Amendment) that explicitly made it a federal offense for a parent who impregnates a daughter through incest to transport that daughter across state lines for an abortion, Lincoln nevertheless voted against it. (Senator Mark Pryor voted for the bill.) (Senate roll call no. 216) This vote alone would demonstrate the utter phoniness of Lincoln’s attack on Boozman. But, there is more.

On September 26, 2006, the House amended S. 403 to include the notification requirements taken from H.R. 748 — but the House now also incorporated the Ensign-Boxer clause that explicitly excluded incestuous parents from the protections of the bill. Again, all four members of the Arkansas House delegation voted for the revised bill. (House roll call 479.) For a detailed explanation of this final version of the CIANA (now numbered S. 403), click here:

The revised S. 403 — now containing the anti-transportation part, the notification requirements, and the exclusion for incestuous parents — came before the Senate on September 29, 2006. Fifty-seven (57) senators supported the revised bill — but due to the Senate filibuster rule, opponents were able to kill the bill by getting only 42 votes against it, of whom Senator Lincoln was one (Senate roll call no. 263).  (For details, see the September 30, 2006 NRLC release “Eight Senate Democrats Flip, Kill Parental Notification bill,” here.)

In short, the parental notification bill failed to become law, despite lopsided majority support in both houses, because of a hard-core pro-abortion bloc of 42 senators, of whom Sen. Lincoln was one.

The bottom line: Senator Lincoln voted to allow minors to be transported across state lines by unauthorized non-parents even after incestuous fathers had been explicitly excluded from exercising the rights established by the bill (on July 25, 2006). She also voted to kill legislation requiring abortionists to notify parents, even though incestuous fathers were explicitly excluded from the legislation (on September 29, 2006). In contrast, Congressman Boozman voted to protect and advance the parental notification legislation every time he had a chance. Senator Lincoln’s remarks about Congressman Boozman’s votes on this issue are diversionary distortions.