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Setting the Record Straight on CIANA



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Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to testify in front of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution on behalf on the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA). This act would strengthen the over 30 state-level pro-life parental-involvement laws currently in place by making it illegal for a non-parent to circumvent these laws by taking a minor girl across state lines for an abortion.  However, in recent days there has been a concerted effort by the mainstream media and pro-choice pundits to mislead people about the both the hearing and the legislation itself.

Gwen Emmons writing on RhRealityCheck.org makes numerous errors in her Monday blogpost. One seriously wonders if she actually saw the hearing or even bothered to consult the online testimony provided by me and my colleague Professor Teresa Collett from St. Thomas University Law School.  For starters, Ms. Emmons describes me as a professor of sociology — in reality I teach political science. She then dismisses the research I provided the impact of parental involvement laws claiming that “a reduction in abortion rates doesn’t mean abortions aren’t happening.” She apparently missed the part of my testimony where I discussed the peer-reviewed studies of the parental-involvement laws passed in Massachusetts and Texas. Both studies found a short-term increase in the minor birth rate in the months after the law went into effect.  This demonstrates that some minors who would have otherwise had abortions carried their pregnancy to term as a result of the law.

Even more bizarrely, Emmons claims that neither “panelist actually talked about the public health impact of parental notification laws.” In reality, both Professor Collett and I both extensively addressed this very issue. In my testimony, I detailed three peer-reviewed studies which show that the passage of state-level parental involvement laws reduce teen pregnancy rates, the gonorrhea rate for minors, and the suicide rate for teen females.  Professor Collett described judicial rulings and statements from medical organizations that minor girls benefit from involving parents in their decisions about handling unplanned pregnancies. In her written testimony, Collett also cited the experiences of two girls who were taken across state lines for abortions without their parents’ knowledge. One now suffers from depression and guilt and the other suffered from physical pain and required additional surgery after the abortion.

The New York Times got in on the act as well. On Monday they published a house editorial attacking CIANA.  They state that CIANA handles the problem of minors not communicating with their parents about unplanned pregnancies “in the most callous way.” They also claim “it would  isolate desperate young women from the trusted adults in their lives.” In reality, it is safe to say parents have more invested in the well-being of their minor daughters than a boyfriend, a friend, or a relative.  Furthermore, the Times fails to report that all state-level parental-involvement laws have judicial bypass provisions for hard-case circumstances involving abuse or neglect.

The Times also seems blissfully unaware of stories where minors, unaware of their own medical history, have obtained abortions without their parents’ knowledge. In some cases minors did not realize that they were allergic to the anesthesia and died or suffered serious injury as a result.  Of course, such stories typically receive scant attention from either pro-choice pundits or mainstream-media outlets.

— Michael J. New is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan –Dearborn, a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, and an adjunct scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @Michael_J_New.



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