What: All Issues : Family Planning : Abortion : H. Res. 236. Abortion/Procedural Vote on Governing Rule for Bill to Prohibit Anyone From Transporting a Minor Across State Lines to Seek an Abortion for the Purpose of Avoiding State Parental Consent or Notification Laws.
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H. Res. 236. Abortion/Procedural Vote on Governing Rule for Bill to Prohibit Anyone From Transporting a Minor Across State Lines to Seek an Abortion for the Purpose of Avoiding State Parental Consent or Notification Laws.
house Roll Call 139     Apr 27, 2005
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

In this vote, the House ordered the previous question for the governing rule for H.R. 748, a bill to prohibit anyone from transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of avoiding parental consent or notification laws to seek an abortion. (Ordering the previous question means to end debate, prevent further amendments and proceed immediately to a vote. A rule sets forth what amendments House members may offer, how much time each side will be permitted to speak, how long the debate can last, etc. A vote on the rule usually reflects existing support and opposition for the underlying legislation and/or loyalty to one's party.) Progressives strongly opposed the legislation, noting that not only would the bill interfere with a woman's constitutionally protected right to choose, but it would also threaten broad categories of individuals–such as grandmothers, members of the clergy and cab drivers–with imprisonment. Democrats, including Progressives, were also irate about a provision in the Rules Committee's report (the Rules Committee is the body of the House that draws up special rules for consideration of bills and issues them in the form of "reports;" the Committee is weighted in favor of the majority party–currently the Republicans–and often works in conjunction with party leadership in formulating rules) which they maintained intentionally mischaracterized an amendment that Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) had wished to offer to the bill on the House floor. Nadler's amendment, which the Rules Committee did not permit him to offer on the House floor, would have exempted grandparents and clergy members from the bill's sanctions. The Rules Committee's report described Nadler's amendment as one which "could [have been] used by sexual predators to escape conviction under the bill." Republicans insisted that "this bill has absolutely nothing, let me repeat, nothing to do with a woman's right to choose. Rather, this bill ensures that no minor is deprived of any protection according [sic] to not only her but also her parents under the laws of her State." (Phil Gingrey (R-GA).) With regard to the controversy over the Rules Committee's wording of Nadler's amendment, they maintained that the difference in viewpoint was merely one of "intent versus effect," (Gingrey); in other words, they argued that their report language addressed the actual potential effects of Nadler's amendment, while Nadler's own description of his amendment only addressed the amendment's goal. By way of example, Republicans further explained their language by noting that if either a grandparent or a member of the clergy were a sexual predator, Nadler's language would have exempted that person from prosecution under the statute. The House voted 234 to 192 to order the previous question on the resolution. Thus, Progressives were defeated and consideration of the bill restricting the transportation of minors across state lines in order to avoid state parental consent or notification laws to obtain an abortion proceeded. Democrats, however, continued to fume over the Republicans' characterization of one of the Democrats' amendments.

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