“‘Arrest Grandma’ Act Would Insert Government into Difficult Family Decisions”

Posted on April 20, 2012


Latinovations, April 20, 2012

We all know families that have experienced difficult situations.

When a young woman faces an unintended pregnancy, she will have to make one of the most difficult and personal decisions of her life. Fortunately, the majority of young women do turn to their parents for support during these tough times.

But what about young women who aren’t able to turn to their parents? Some teens come from homes where there’s abuse or violence.

It’s important that a young woman in this situation be able to turn to another responsible adult for support—say, a loving grandparent, close aunt, or trusted clergy member.

The last thing anyone—whether pro-choice or not—should want is a young woman being forced to make this decision alone, with no support at all. Above all, our communities’ first priority should be to keep our teens safe, not isolated and scared.

That’s why a bill moving through the U.S. House of Representatives is so deeply troubling.

The bill’s backers call it the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA). We call it the “Arrest Grandma” Act because of what it would do.

The “Arrest Grandma” Act would make it a federal crime for anyone other than a parent—such as a loving grandmother, aunt, or clergy member—to accompany a young woman to another state for abortion care. It also would force doctors to learn and enforce 9 other states’ parental-involvement laws—under the threat of fines and prison sentences.

Is it really the role of government to inject itself into difficult family situations? I don’t think so.

Last month, the Very Rev. Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale spoke out against the bill in a House committee hearing.

She told the story of one young woman who came from a home where she feared abuse and was pregnant as the result of rape. The young woman chose to seek abortion care, but was unable to turn to her parents for support. Rev. Ragsdale was there to offer counsel and support so that she would not have to face her decision alone.

Under the “Arrest Grandma” Act, young women in similar situations could find themselves unable to turn to any  trusted adult.

“Please don’t outlaw the very help we want our children to have,” Rev. Ragsdale pleaded.

We all care about young women’s wellbeing and safety. Think of your daughters, sisters, friends, or neighbors.  If a young woman in your life was desperate for your help, you wouldn’t turn her away.

Government has no business forcing itself into difficult family decisions. Threatening caring grandmothers and clergy members with jail time does nothing to help young women in dire situations. It only puts their health and safety in further danger. And that’s exactly what the “Arrest Grandma” Act would do.

Our elected representatives should stop pushing this dangerous bill. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to oppose this bill.

Nancy Keenan, President, NARAL Pro-Choice America: Nancy Keenan is a nationally recognized progressive leader who brings her experience as a state legislator and statewide elected official to her role as president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Nancy marshals NARAL Pro-Choice America’s resources-the power of people, political acumen, and policy expertise-to lead the charge to protect a woman’s right to choose.

Under Keenan’s leadership, NARAL Pro-Choice America launched a research project in Arizona and New Mexico in partnership with community organizations examining Latinas’ views on reproductive rights issues. In addition, The New York Times and Newsweek have written about her organization’s ground-breaking and ongoing public-opinion research of the Millennial Generation’s views on abortion rights.

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Posted in: United States