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Democrats move to exempt 'confidants' of minors from abortion bill

[JURIST] Democrats in the US Senate are proposing additional exemptions for a bill that would punish those who help a minor cross state lines to receive an abortion [JURIST news archive] without parental consent or notification. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) [official website] plans to offer an amendment to the Child Custody Protection Act [SB 8 summary; PDF text] that would shield "confidants" such as clergy and grandparents from prosecution, while other Democrats want to protect those who help minors who pursue out-of-state abortions because of rape or incest. Abortion opponents contend that the amendments would drastically weaken the bill [LifeNews.com report].

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) [official website; press release] and co-sponsored by 41 senators, already exempts the minors, their parents and legal guardians, and those who facilitate abortions that were "necessary to save the life of the minor." Violations would be punishable by fines and up to a year in prison. The House passed a similar bill [JURIST report; HR 748 summary and PDF text] last year by a vote of 270-157. Only six states and the District of Columbia do not require parental notification before a minor receives an abortion. AP has more.

8:10 PM ET - The Senate passed the bill late Tuesday 65-34 [roll call]. The Feinstein amendment on "confidants" was rejected in floor negotiations, and a measure offered by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to require the government to spend more money on sex education failed 48-51 [roll call]. There are, however, major differences between the Senate bill and a House version of the legislation passed last year, and these will have to be resolved before the bill can go forward to the President for signature. AP has more.

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