John Brummett today rises to the defense of Rep. John Boozman over Sen. Blanche Lincoln's debate effort to cast him as an extremist on abortion for his vote on a Democratic effort to amend sweeping federal parental consent legislation on abortion.
I've already said Lincoln didn't arrive well-prepped for the moment when Boozman said — either cluelessly or disingenuously — that he didn't know what she was talking about. She flubbed any response.
But, contrary to what Brummett has written, the vote does serve well to illustrate Boozman's extremism. American Prospect wrote in some detail about the issue earlier. It was about the Child Interstate Abortion Prevention Act.
The 2005 bill made it a crime to transport minors across state lines for an abortion without the consent of her parents. It also gave parents the right to sue if the laws were violated. Rep. Jerrold Nadler at the time tried to introduce an amendment that would exempt grandparents, adult siblings, and clergy, and said this:
Under CIANA, a father who rapes and impregnates his own daughter can go and sue the doctor or the grandparent or the clergyman who transported his child across state lines for the purpose of getting an abortion. Maybe that wasn't exactly the intent of this legislation. But according to the descriptive guidelines now laid out by the majority, it would therefore be fair to call this entire bill the Rapists and Sexual Predators Right to Sue Act.
Republicans portrayed his amendment as one that would protect sexual predators. The bill passed by voice vote in the House but died in the Senate. Boozman's campaign has said the bill outlined exemptions for sexual predators. This is what I found in the bill regarding prosecution of those who transport or perform abortion on minors who travel out of state to get them:
(3) the minor declares in a signed written statement that she is the victim of sexual abuse, neglect, or physical abuse by a parent, and, before an abortion is performed on the minor, the physician notifies the authorities specified to receive reports of child abuse or neglect by the law of the State in which the minor resides of the known or suspected abuse or neglect.
It also said a minor or a parent couldn't be sued if they acted under certain exemptions, but I didn't see a provision stripping the right of a father who was also a sexual predator to sue.
So, 1) the bill contained no provision to explicitly prevent rapist fathers from suing and 2) to get an exemption of parental notice, the victim and the doctor had to blow the whistle on an abusive parent, something a minor rape victim might be understandably reluctant to do. This is extreme stuff. Brummett and others in the media have rushed to parrot the Boozman line that this was merely a "procedural" vote as if without meaning. But you could say the same on votes on all amendments that shape and reshape legislation, from health care to financial reform. Amendments, or efforts to amend and votes on same, have meaning. To dismiss them as procedural is to defend Boozman without examining the facts or acknowledging the legislative process. Yes, sometimes amendments can suck the life out of a bill. Good for the amenders when they illustrate flaws. Indeed, it appears House overreaching caused the failure of this bill in 2005 during the reconciliation process. Some of that procedural stuff again. The very meanness of this legislation is why many voted against it. One candidate is pro-woman, one isn't. That isn't procedural and Boozman's defense of punitive legislation from any amendment makes the point.