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Menendez, Lautenberg, and 40 Other Senators Kill Parental Notification Bill

Contact: National Right to Life Committee, 202-626-8820, Legfederal@aol.com 

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 /Christian Newswire/ -- A bill to generally require notification of one parent before a minor obtains an out-of-state abortion died Friday when U.S. Senate Democrats voted overwhelmingly to block it.

New Jersey's senators, Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, were among the senators who voted to kill the bill.

Hours before Congress adjourned for pre-election campaigning, 57 senators voted to remove the final procedural obstacle to S. 403, which would have cleared the bill for transmission to President Bush for his signature.  But 57 was three votes short of the 60 required under Senate rules to break through a procedural roadblock erected by the Senate Democratic leadership.

The Senate Democratic leadership had been obstructing the progress of the legislation for months.  This week, pro-life Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tn.) made a bold attempt to overcome the minority's obstructionism by forcing the decisive cloture vote.

The cloture motion was supported by 51 of the chamber's 55 Republicans (93%), but by only six of the 45 members of the Democratic caucus (13%).  The complete roll call can be viewed here.

The bill, S. 403, the Child Custody Protection Act, as it initally passed the Senate on July 25 by a vote of 65-34, would have prohibited transporting a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion, if this abridged the parents' right to be notified under the home-state law.  However, the Senate Democratic leadership subsequently raised unusual procedural barriers that prevented the bill from going to a House-Senate conference committee.  On September 26, the House took up the Senate-passed bill, added a provision to require an abortionist in any state to notify one parent before performing an abortion on a minor from another state (with certain exceptions), and sent the bill back to the Senate by a vote of 264-153 (under the title "Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act," or CIANA).  It was this amended bill that the Senate voted on last night.

Of the 14 Democrats who initiatially voted in favor of S. 403 on July 25, yesterday eight flipped and voted to kill the parental notification requirement:  Ken Salazar (Co.), Tom Carper (De.), Bill Nelson (Fl.), Daniel Inouye (Hi.), Evan Bayh (In.), Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan (both ND), and Herb Kohl (Wi).

The six Democrats who voted in favor of the bill on both occasions were Mark Pryor (Ar.), Ben Nelson (Ne.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Harry Reid (Nv.), Tim Johnson (SD), and Robert Byrd (WV).  The four Republicans who opposed the bill were Lincoln Chafee (RI), Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (both Maine), and Arlen Specter (Pa.).

"It is remarkable that only six out of 45 Senate Democrats voted to require a parent to be notified before an abortion is performed on a young daughter in some other state," commented NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson, who noted that the bill had exceptions for cases involving abuse, medical emergency, and judicial waiver of notification.  "We commend Majority Leader Bill Frist for fighting to the end to free this legislation from the grip of a Senate minority, a minority that has preserved the ability of profiteering abortionists to keep parents in the dark."

The chief sponsors of the legislation are Sen. John Ensign (R-Nv.) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl.). 

To view a letter from NRLC to the Senate that explains the provisions of the bill in detail, click here.

For other information on the legislation, including the full text (PDF format), summaries of state parental notification and consent laws, and other resources, click here.

To view NRLC's scorecard of all key pro-life roll calls in the Senate during the current Congress, click here.

To view NRLC's scorecard of all key pro-life roll calls in the House of Representatives during the current Congress, click here.