Family Research Council

Ending secret abortions for Teens

By Cathy Cleaver Ruse


Cathy Cleaver Ruse is senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Washington Times on April 27, 2012.


Rep. Jerrold Nadler doesn't think abortions kill babies. How 20th century of him.

The Democrat from New York made this outmoded argument late last month when members of the House Judiciary Committee met to review the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA).

Many states make it illegal to perform an abortion on a minor girl without first telling her parents. Parental notice laws are perhaps the best example of common-sense, common-ground abortion regulation today. Numerous polls attest to this, and the Supreme Court has ruled them constitutional, provided they contain certain exceptions.

Parental involvement laws do not exist in every state, however, and older boyfriends like to take their young pregnant girlfriends across state lines to avoid them. CIANA would make that illegal, and it would also require the abortionist to notify parents if the girl on his table is underage and from out of state.

CIANA is exceedingly modest. It breaks no new legal ground, but simply protects against the circumvention of state laws already in place. I was the counsel in charge of drafting its first iteration in 1998, and it has been introduced in every subsequent Congress since. Sometimes it passes the House, once it passed the Senate, but it has never passed the full Congress. Why?

In part, because of Planned Parenthood, a lobbying powerhouse, which fights parental involvement laws wherever they crop up.

None will soon forget what happened to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation when it considered cutting grants to the abortion giant. The beloved breast cancer research group found itself the target of a vicious, orchestrated attack that threatened to run it out of business. Komen got the message, and Planned Parenthood got the cash. Congressional Democrats, too, are loathe to cross this political machine.

But another reason why modest measures such as this one get stalled in Congress is lawmakers such as Mr. Nadler, for whom the mention of abortion works like a signal in "The Manchurian Candidate," sending them into irrational loops of "pro-choice" blather such as abortions don't kill babies.

In fairness, Mr. Nadler didn't actually bring up the subject. He was answering Rep. Trent Franks, Arizona Republican, who, exasperated over the entrenchment on the Democratic side, said, "I don't understand what is so liberating about killing little children - it just kind of escapes me."

In response, Mr. Nadler pulled a line from his old kit bag: "I don't believe most abortions are killing children." Abortion apologist Naomi Wolf put the kibosh on that one way back in 1996 with her discourse on the "full humanity" of the fetus and its "real death" by abortion.

Later Mr. Nadler said: "I do not believe that a blastocyst ... is a human being." But even the earliest embryo is composed of entirely human DNA, and exhibits the scientific characteristics of a living organism or "being" - coordinated development through separately functioning interdependent organs. The modern debate is not over the science of humanity but the decidedly unscientific question of whether or when to confer legal rights.

What's more, Mr. Nadler's comments suggest most abortions are done on days-old embryos. Mr. Franks destroyed that notion that with a staggering statistic: Of the 50 million babies aborted since Roe v. Wade, the average gestational age was 10 to 12 weeks.

"We can take babies' thumbprints at that time," Mr. Franks added, for emphasis, "and identify them when they're 50 years old."

CIANA passed the House Judiciary Committee on March 27 by a 20-13 vote. Next stop is a vote by the full House. So far, no action has been taken on it in the Senate.

Mr. Nadler did make one concession at the committee meeting. "On the other hand," he said, "an 8-month-old fetus or a 9-month-old fetus, in my opinion, is a human being." Some concession. Can we not in 2012 call even a nearly born infant a human being as a matter of fact rather than opinion?

Supporters of common-ground abortion regulations such as this one are winning the arguments if not all the votes. But the votes will come and with them, protection for the pregnant teen and her unborn baby, who are never well-served by a secret abortion, in another state, away from the people who love her most.

Meet The Author
Cathy Ruse Senior Fellow - Legal Studies

Cathy Ruse has devoted her professional career to promoting the dignity of the human person. Her professional experience spans the fields of communication, public policy, and law. (Full Bio)

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