This week, Congress will be voting on the misleadingly titled "Child Custody Protection Act," which will make it a federal crime to help a minor across state lines to get an abortion.
There is no public demand at all for this bill. Most Americans have no desire for yet another divisive battle over abortion and would prefer that Congress work to develop policies that help teens and adults make responsible choices about sexual health and childbearing. Common sense would tell us that promoting family planning and responsible sex education are the solutions to our high abortion rate, not punitive laws that would isolate young women in crises.The clear intent of the anti-choice lawmakers who wrote this bill (including Sen. Hatch, who is a sponsor) is to make abortion access more difficult, not to foster family communication. Because so few areas have abortion providers - only one county in Utah does - traveling a long way is often necessary and sometimes the closest clinic is in the next state. This bill tells young women in trouble, "You have to go it alone."
There are too many stories about young women throwing their babies in Dumpsters, hiding them in dresser drawers or leaving them in public toilets. Women need information about their options as well as age-appropriate, responsible sex education before they get to such a desperate situation. Despite the fact that more than 75 percent of girls under age 16 have talked to a parent before seeking an abortion, the bottom line is this: You can't write a law forcing parent-child communication.
I fervently hope that Utah's congressional representatives realize how dangerous this bill is and do not vote for it.
Salt Lake City