November 11, 2003
On behalf of the more than 1,050 congregations that make up the Unitarian Universalist Association, I strongly urge you to oppose H.R. 1755, the Child Custody Protection Act. The bill would make compassionate people into criminals and put young women at significant risk of domestic violence. It would also substantially increase the number of teenagers who pursue unsafe, illegal abortions. The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.
H.R.1755 would prohibit caring adults, including clergy
members, social workers, and counselors to aid a young woman in obtaining an
abortion in another state without meeting her own state's parental involvement
law. The bill, if passed, would have a devastating effect on teens who cannot,
for whatever reasons, involve their parents in their decision to have an
abortion. Studies show that approximately 30% of young women seeking abortions
do not obtain parental consent. Reasons for this include but are not limited to
the fear of rejection, violence, abuse, and stigmatization within their homes.
Long-term studies of abusive and dysfunctional families reveal that the
incidence of violence escalates when a wife or teenage daughter becomes
pregnant. Without the help of a trusted adult community member in obtaining a
safe, legal abortion procedure, many teens are forced into illegal,
health-endangering or even life-threatening procedures.
Unitarian Universalists have a strong history of a commitment to supporting reproductive health, choice, and the rights of youth. Unitarian Universalist principles affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and the right to individual conscience. The General Assembly, our highest policy-making body, has passed ten resolutions on reproductive health and choice issues. One such resolution from 1993, entitled "Federal Legislation for Choice," calls for "passage of federal legislation to guarantee unrestricted access to counseling and abortion services, regardless of age, class, race, or situation."
The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations is strongly opposed to H.R. 1755. This bill would expose well-meaning adults — including clergy — to criminal penalties, and young women to domestic violence, familial rejection, and unsafe abortions. I urge you to support the role that trusted adults can play in young women's lives, and help to protect their health and safety by voting against the Child Custody Protection Act.
Robert C. Keithan
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Washington Office for Advocacy