Commentary Family

Protecting Our Daughters from Government Intrusion: The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act

Morgan Meneses-Sheets

Parents rightfully want to be involved in their teens’ lives, but if my daughter feels that she cannot talk to me at a big turning point in her life, it is most important that she have a trusted adult by her side. That is why I am so concerned about HR 2299, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act of 2012.

It is hard to describe the parental instinct that makes you cry when they cry, laugh when they laugh, and changes you along the way. I have celebrated every moment watching my daughter grow up. I can’t wait to see the wonderful woman she becomes.

When she has her first crush, I hope that she will come to me. We can giggle and share stories. I will be there to make sure she makes good choices and has healthy relationships that enrich her life and bring her happiness. But if she feels uncomfortable talking to her mom, I hope she will reach out to her aunt, since my little sister was always there by my side through my own heartbreaks and triumphs.

If she loses a friend or feels rejected by a clique in school, I want her to talk with me. We can discuss how she should not sacrifice too much to fit in and should always remain true to herself. If she thinks I won’t understand, perhaps she will look to a school counselor or the minister –- the one who has been by her side and presided over her blessing ceremony — for guidance.

If she has trouble figuring out whether she wants to go to college or art school or forge her own path, I can share my life experiences. I will tell her how it never turns out exactly the way you think it will and that life can be all the more exciting when it doesn’t. But maybe it won’t be me she decides to talk to. It could be her guidance counselor or our family friend who runs her own business and has been another great role model of a strong and successful woman.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

And if she finds herself pregnant and is not sure if she is ready or able to be a parent, I would pray that she turns to me so we can talk together about all of her options to make sure she makes the best decision for her and her unique circumstances. But if it can’t be me, she may want to talk to about her options with her doctor, the one who has always made sure she has the best care, or perhaps she would call my mom since they have always been close and she knows her grandma would support her no matter what.

Parents rightfully want to be involved in their teens’ lives, but if my daughter feels that she cannot talk to me at a big turning point in her life, it is most important that she have a trusted adult by her side. That is why I am so concerned about HR 2299, a bill that just passed out of the House Judiciary Committee and creates criminal penalties for caring and loving adults — including grandparents, aunts, and clergy — who accompany a teen who travels out of state to seek abortion care.

This short-sighted bill would also force doctors to impose a parental-notice requirement on young women from out of state – under the threat of fines and prison sentences. This makes a criminal out of the caring physician who has always had my child’s best interest at heart just because she keeps the trust and confidentiality of a doctor and patient relationship in order to provide the best care possible. This bill is not about protecting young women. It merely makes it harder for them to weigh all their options and make the best decision for them.

At first blush this bill may sound like a good idea. It plays on the gut instincts that parents have as our kids get older and we want to protect them from the big, bad world of grown up challenges. That is why a majority of young women do turn to their parents when they are considering different options in the face of an unplanned pregnancy or if they decide to seek abortion care. But for some teens involving their parents is not an option because their pregnancies are the result of incest, or because they fear parental anger and disappointment. Simply put this legislation is very dangerous for teens for a variety of reasons.

The government cannot mandate healthy family communication. That is something that we as parents and families work hard to create. We ask our children about their day, help them do their homework, and plan family vacations, all to build strong relationships and show them how much we care. Congress cannot solve family issues or force teens to talk to their parents and it is extremely harmful to the health and decision-making of young women when they attempt to do so.

I have big hopes for my daughter. I want to be there for her each step of the way, but what is most important is that she is safe, that she has timely access to the care that she needs and that when making important decisions she has someone by her side who will support her, even if that person may not be me. All I know is that Congress is the only “body” I don’t want involved in hers.

News Politics

Anti-Choice Democrats: ‘Open The Big Tent’ for Us

Christine Grimaldi & Ally Boguhn

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America gathered Wednesday in Philadelphia during the party’s convention to honor Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for his anti-choice viewpoints, and to strategize ways to incorporate their policies into the party.

The group attributed Democratic losses at the state and federal level to the party’s increasing embrace of pro-choice politics. The best way for Democrats to reclaim seats in state houses, governors’ offices, and the U.S. Congress, they charged, is to “open the big tent” to candidates who oppose legal abortion care.

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America members repeatedly attempted to distance themselves from Republicans, reiterating their support for policies such as Medicaid expansion and paid maternity leave, which they believe could convince people to carry their pregnancies to term.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Their strategy, however, could have been lifted directly from conservatives’ anti-choice playbook.

The group relies, in part, on data from Marist, a group associated with anti-choice polling, to suggest that many in the party side with them on abortion rights. Executive Director Kristen Day could not explain to Rewire why the group supports a 20-week abortion ban, while Janet Robert, president of the group’s board of directors, trotted out scientifically false claims about fetal pain

Day told Rewire that she is working with pro-choice Democrats, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both from New York, on paid maternity leave. Day said she met with DeLauro the day before the group’s event.

Day identifies with Democrats despite a platform that for the first time embraces the repeal of restrictions for federal funding of abortion care. 

“Those are my people,” she said.

Day claimed to have been “kicked out of the pro-life movement” for supporting the Affordable Care Act. She said Democrats for Life of America is “not opposed to contraception,” though the group filed an amicus brief in U.S. Supreme Court cases on contraception. 

Democrats for Life of America says it has important allies in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL), along with former Rep. Bart Stupak (MI), serve on the group’s board of advisors, according to literature distributed at the convention.

Another alleged ally, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), came up during Edwards’ speech. Edwards said he had discussed the award, named for Casey’s father, former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, the defendant in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which opened up a flood of state-level abortions restrictions as long as those anti-choice policies did not represent an “undue burden.”

“Last night I happened to have the opportunity to speak to Sen. Bob Casey, and I told him … I was in Philadelphia, receiving this award today named after his father,” Edwards said.

The Louisiana governor added that though it may not seem it, there are many more anti-choice Democrats like the two of them who aren’t comfortable coming forward about their views.

“I’m telling you there are many more people out there like us than you might imagine,” Edwards said. “But sometimes it’s easier for those folks who feel like we do on these issues to remain silent because they’re not going to  be questioned, and they’re not going to be receiving any criticism.”

During his speech, Edwards touted the way he has put his views as an anti-choice Democrat into practice in his home state. “I am a proud Democrat, and I am also very proudly pro-life,” Edwards told the small gathering.

Citing his support for Medicaid expansion in Louisiana—which went into effect July 1—Edwards claimed he had run on an otherwise “progressive” platform except for when it came to abortion rights, adding that his policies demonstrate that “there is a difference between being anti-abortion and being pro-life.”

Edwards later made clear that he was disappointed with news that Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock, whose organization works to elect pro-choice women to office, was being considered to fill the position of party chair in light of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation.

“It wouldn’t” help elect anti-choice politicians to office, said Edwards when asked about it by a reporter. “I don’t want to be overly critical, I don’t know the person, I just know that the signal that would send to the country—and to Democrats such as myself—would just be another step in the opposite direction of being a big tent party [on abortion].” 

Edwards made no secret of his anti-choice viewpoints during his run for governor in 2015. While on the campaign trail, he released a 30-second ad highlighting his wife’s decision not to terminate her pregnancy after a doctor told the couple their daughter would have spina bifida.

He received a 100 percent rating from anti-choice organization Louisiana Right to Life while running for governor, based off a scorecard asking him questions such as, “Do you support the reversal of Roe v. Wade?”

Though the Democratic Party platform and nominee have voiced the party’s support for abortion rights, Edwards has forged ahead with signing numerous pieces of anti-choice legislation into law, including a ban on the commonly used dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure, and an extension of the state’s abortion care waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours.

News Politics

NARAL President Tells Her Abortion Story at the Democratic National Convention

Ally Boguhn

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates.

Read more of our coverage of the Democratic National Convention here.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the story of her abortion on the stage of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) Wednesday evening in Philadelphia.

“Texas women are tough. We approach challenges with clear eyes and full hearts. To succeed in life, all we need are the tools, the trust, and the chance to chart our own path,” Hogue told the crowd on the third night of the party’s convention. “I was fortunate enough to have these things when I found out I was pregnant years ago. I wanted a family, but it was the wrong time.”

“I made the decision that was best for me — to have an abortion — and to get compassionate care at a clinic in my own community,” she continued. “Now, years later, my husband and I are parents to two incredible children.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Hogue noted that her experience is similar to those of women nationwide.

“About one in three American women have abortions by the age of 45, and the majority are mothers just trying to take care of the families they already have,” she said. “You see, it’s not as simple as bad girls get abortions and good girls have families. We are the same women at different times in our lives — each making decisions that are the best for us.”

As reported by Yahoo News, “Asked if she was the first to have spoken at a Democratic National Convention about having had an abortion for reasons other than a medical crisis, Hogue replied, ‘As far as I know.'”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards on Tuesday night was the first speaker at the DNC in Philadelphia to say the word “abortion” on stage, according to Vox’s Emily Crockett. 

Richards’ use of the word abortion was deliberate, and saying the word helps address the stigma that surrounds it, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Vice President of Communication Mary Alice Carter said in an interview with ThinkProgress. 

“When we talk about reproductive health, we talk about the full range of reproductive health, and that includes access to abortion. So we’re very deliberate in saying we stand up for a woman’s right to access an abortion,” Carter said.

“There is so much stigma around abortion and so many people that sit in shame and don’t talk about their abortion, and so it’s very important to have the head of Planned Parenthood say ‘abortion,’ it’s very important for any woman who’s had an abortion to say ‘abortion,’ and it’s important for us to start sharing those stories and start bringing it out of the shadows and recognizing that it’s a normal experience,” she added.

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates. In April, Clinton called out moderators for failing to ask “about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care” over the course of eight debates—though she did not use the term abortion in her condemnation.