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April 28, 2005

Frist amendment: no rights

Another reason why Bill Frist must be stopped: on Wednesday the House passed a bill that would make it illegal to avoid parental-consent laws by taking minors across state lines for abortions. Big deal: this is the third time since 1998 the House has approved such a measure, only to have the Senate ignore it. But this year is different, because (a) the custody protection act is one of Frist’s top ten legislative priorities, so has a good chance of becoming law, and (b) we have a stupid president:

President Bush praised the House for passing the measure. “The parents of pregnant minors can provide counsel, guidance and support to their children and should be involved in these decisions,” Bush said. “I urge the Senate to pass this important legislation and help continue to build a culture of life in America.”

Frist’s line is more subtle:

“No matter how few people it affects, it’s an important bill on the principles,” said Frist, a Tennessee Republican and doctor who is considering seeking his party's presidential nomination in 2008.

Those principles won’t help many of the “few” young girls who become pregnant as the result of rape. The most recent detailed report on this issue, the Justice Department’s “Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement,” was published five years ago. It estimates that in 1996 there were 197,000 forcible rapes in the U.S., 98.7% of them on women. One-third of those rapes were of minors aged 12-17—the most likely underage group to become pregnant as a result.

The report also found that 24.3% of sexual assaults (including rape) on females aged 12-17 were by family members—and profiling suggests that those offenders were most likely to be aged over 34. In other words, fathers—who, if Frist gets his way, will have a legal stranglehold on the daughters they impregnate. And we’re probably talking a few thousand kids here—not just a “few.”


Posted by Stephen at 1:49 AM in Politics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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