Laws in many states require minors to obtain parental notification / consent before obtaining an abortion. Many abortion opponents claim, however, that minors can easily cross state lines to circumvent these laws. Thus,
The Senate voted yesterday to make it a crime to take a pregnant minor to another state to obtain an abortion without her parents' knowledge, handing a long-sought victory to the Bush administration and abortion opponents.
The bill would help about three dozen states enforce laws that require minors to notify or obtain the consent of their parents before having an abortion. It would bar people -- including clergy members and grandparents -- from helping a girl cross state lines to avoid parental-involvement laws. Violations could result in a year in prison.
This law is wrong-headed because it attempts to impose a unified abortion policy everywhere. Most states already have parential notification / consent laws, but the details, severity, and degree of enforcement vary widely. This hetergeneity is a reasonable compromise.
Abortion is an issue where imposing one policy on the entire country is disastrous. There are passionately held positions at both ends of the spectrum, yet most of the population falls squarely in the middle. Imposing policy at the federal level generates polarization and acriminony that is desctructive of a civil society. Leaving abortion policy to the states allows for different outcomes in different places, which means a broad fraction of the population can feel its views have at least been heard.