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JUNE 23, 1998
5:25 PM
CONTACT:  National Organization for Women
NOW Mobilizes Opposition To Teen Endangerment Act
Urges President Clinton To Speak Out Against Dangerous Bill
WASHINGTON - June 23 --  NOW is mobilizing against a "reckless bill that threatens to jail single parents, grandmothers, ministers and others who are attempting to help young women," said NOW President Patricia Ireland.

The bill, more accurately termed the "Teen Endangerment Act" by the New York Times, would make it a federal crime for anyone to accompany a minor across state lines for an abortion, unless the young woman had already satisfied the requirements of her home state's parental notification and consent laws.  Additionally, the young woman seeking the abortion can be prosecuted as an accessory to the crime. Because 84 percent of counties in the U.S. do not have an abortion provider, for many women an out-of-state abortion provider would be the closest facility. 

"This bill would not only deny young women help from adults they trust, but could also endanger their health and violate the rights guaranteed by the Constitution," Ireland warned. The legislation allows the prosecution of anyone who "transports" a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion and provides for penalties of a fine, a prison term of not more than a year, or both.

Ireland said, "Teens who can talk to their parents will; we can't legislate family ties.  We know from the case of Becky Bell that some young women will risk their lives rather than tell their parents about an abortion." The Indiana teen was 17 when she discovered she was pregnant, and she died from a ‘back alley' abortion rather than seek permission from her parents or a judge, as Indiana law required.

"The Teen Endangerment Act is particularly extreme in that it does not include an adequate life exception or the constitutionally required health exception," said Ireland.  It would also add to the danger for young women seeking abortion by forcing them to travel alone or with other teens.

"We call on President Clinton to speak out against this bill which isolates and further stigmatizes young pregnant women, potentially making criminals out of them for exercising their constitutional right to obtain an abortion," Ireland said.

The bill was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee today.


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