Politics & Policy

Protecting Girls

Thinking about Ted Kennedy's Groody concerns.

During yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to confirm Judge Samuel Alito, Senator Ted Kennedy attempted to paint Alito as someone who had scarred a ten-year old girl for life.

He referred to Doe v. Groody, the 2004 case in which the issue was raised as to whether a search warrant can include others on the premises of the area who have not been individually named in the warrant, but have been identified as “all occupants of the residence” in the attached affidavit.

In this particular case, a warrant had been issued for the residence of a methamphetamine dealer. When the search was conducted, the drug dealer’s wife and their ten-year old daughter were found inside. Unfortunately, drug dealers have been known to use children to hide or carry drugs. The girl was searched by a female officer in a private room with her mother present.

No one is pleased by the thought of a ten-year old girl undergoing such an invasive procedure. But the source of this trouble, and the cause of even more dismay, is that the child was being raised by a drug dealer. Her father had unfortunately made a lot of bad decisions that inevitably involved his daughter.

But Senator Kennedy blithely skipped by the facts of Groody and the tragic circumstances of this young girl’s life. Instead he pinned the blame on law enforcement and the courts, hammering away at the “scars” that she’ll suffer on account of the search:

Senator Kennedy asked:

Why did you feel that, under these circumstances…under these circumstances…that that affidavit should be included, the result of which we have the strip-searching of a 10-year-old–a 10-year-old that will bear the scars of that kind of activity probably for the rest of her life.

He continued:

…as a result of your judgment in this case and the inclusion of the Affidavit, we have the kind of conduct against this 10-year-old which she will never forget…Why, Judge Alito?

Why, indeed. Why, Senator Kennedy?, that is. If Kennedy is so concerned with the scarring of a ten-year old for life–a legitimate concern–why doesn’t that concern extend to young girls who are taken across state lines for an abortion without the knowledge or consent of at least one of their parents?

‐In 1998, the House overwhelmingly passed an interstate teen abortion bill. It died at the end of the legislative session without Senate action.

‐In 1999, the House overwhelmingly passed the Child Custody Protection Act. But it too died without Senate action.

‐In 2001, the House again overwhelmingly passed the Child Custody Protection Act. It was received in the Senate and sent to the Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Kennedy is a member. The bill received no action and died at the end of the session.

‐In 2003, the House overwhelmingly passed the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act. Senator Ensign again introduced a bill requiring parental consent or notification for a minor obtaining an abortion. Hearings were held in the Judiciary Committee on June 3, 2004. Testimonies indicated that lack of parental involvement was sure to result in serious detriment to a young girl. No further action was taken and the bill died at the end of the session.

You’ll note there’s a pattern here. Four times, the bill has passed the House overwhelmingly, only to die in the Senate without a vote.

Senator Kennedy was first elected to the Senate in 1962; he has never been a vocal advocate for young girls who are taken without parental involvement for abortions, often by the adult male father of the unborn child. Yet these same parents are left to pick up the pieces and deal with the constant scars that abortion can leave on a young girl, particularly one who has been the victim of sexual coercion.

The senator has that myopia that abortion advocates tend to have. He focuses on one detail and misses the big picture, harping on one event while ignoring the whole life of the young girl.

Judge Alito has never denied that the circumstances requiring the search of a ten-year old girl are tragic and thoroughly demoralizing. He expressed a “visceral dislike of the intrusive search.” But he hasn’t lost sight of the bigger issue, what he referred to as the “sad fact that drug dealers sometimes use children to carry out their business and to avoid prosecution.”

If Senator Kennedy’s concern for scarred young girls is newly found, then we’ll expect his support to finally get legislation passed that protects young girls faced with the life determining decision of abortion by making sure that their parents are involved. Until then, the question can only be, “Why, Senator Kennedy? Why don’t you act to protect young girls from the scarring of abortion?”

Pia de Solenni is the director of life and women’s issues at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.


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