The House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday, making it a federal crime for any adult to accompany a minor across state lines to have an abortion without her parents’ consent.
A vote on a similar bill is expected in the Senate later this spring.
The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act was passed 270 to 157. The bill closes a loophole by preventing girls 17 and under from going to different states to evade more restrictive laws in their home states that require parental notification for abortions.
The bill also requires doctors to comply with state notification laws, and in some cases to notify the girl's parents in person.
Violators could face a $100,000 fine and a year in jail.
The bill also imposes a 24-hour waiting period for minors who travel to another state for an abortion.
Supporters characterize the measure as pro-family, saying it will prevent abusive boyfriends and others from taking vulnerable young women across state lines to receive "secret abortions" against their will.
They say the decision to have an abortion should rest solely with the parents.
"The overwhelming majority of Americans believe parents should be involved in abortion decisions affecting their teenage daughters," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. The USCCB official had urged the House to pass the bill.
The bill has the strong backing of the White House, which issued a statement after the bill was passed.
The statement read that the bill "is consistent with the administration's view that parents' efforts to be involved in their children's lives should be protected and the widespread belief among authorities in the field that the parents of pregnant minors are best suited to provide them with counsel, guidance and support."