Capitol Hill leaders are protecting older men who take advantage of teens.

But the scandal we have in mind is far worse than the reprehensible e-mails to House pages that have been making headlines.

Before adjourning for the fall, senators had the chance to bring the most important pro-life and pro-family bill of this Congress to the floor. Senate Democrats — joined by one Republican — voted overwhelmingly to block it.

The Child Custody Protection Act would have made it a federal offense to take a girl out of state for an abortion to avoid parental consent laws. Nearly 70% Americans agree that parental consent should be required for abortion in underage girls, and more than half our nation’s states protect teens this way.

But that doesn’t stop older men and their enabling relatives from coercing their victims into abortion by taking them to neighboring states. After all, those who use underage girls for sex aren’t likely to develop scruples when it comes to covering up their crimes.

That’s what Joyce Farley found.

She told the Senate Judiciary Committee about how her daughter, Crystal, was only 12 when a 19-year-old man got her drunk and raped her. On Aug. 31, 1995, Crystal went missing.  Police were searching for Crystal when the 19-year-old’s mother drove up to the Farley’s house. She had taken Crystal to New York to get an abortion. 

Crystal told the committee about the experience. “I was awake through the entire time and asked them to stop but no one listened to me,” she said. “I think all the time about how things would have been different if my mom was with me or if I had told her I was pregnant.”

The abortion was incomplete and she had to be hospitalized for a second procedure. “Going through all this was the most terrifying time of my life,” she said.

Joyce begged senators to remember Crystal’s story when they voted. “I ask you,” she said, “to put aside your personal opinions on abortion and to please just consider the safety of the minor children of our nation.”

The president of Feminists for Life made the same case in her message to the Senate.

“It is all too common for sex predators to seek vulnerable young girls — and, when a pregnancy results, abortion has been used to cover up their crime,” said Serrin M. Foster. “Without the input of a custodial adult, teens risk their health. Will a sex predator ensure she takes her antibiotic as directed after surgery? Boyfriends are typically no more helpful,” said Foster.

She told the story of 15-year-old Tamia Russell.

In 2004, Tamia’s 24-year-old boyfriend teamed up with his sister to take her to an abortion business. Tamia’s mother was not informed before the procedure. Russell died from a severe infection afterwards.

“How many teenagers have to die before we protect them and give them the resources and support they need?” Foster asked. “Teenage girls who are too afraid to tell their parents will put their health on the line when they experience complications from an abortion — and those who prey on teens know it.”

Foster reminded senators that even Dr. Bruce Lucero, who has gotten rich performing abortions, lobbied in support of the bill when it was first introduced in 1998.

n most cases,” he wrote to The New York Times, “a parent’s input is the best guarantee that a teenager will make a decision that is correct for her. … And it helps guarantee that if a teenager chooses an abortion, she will receive appropriate medical care.”

The only people who stand to gain from keeping parents in the dark are predators and abortion providers who cater to them.

That’s why this bill shouldn’t have been a partisan issue at all — and initially wasn’t. Fourteen Democratic senators indicated that they would support the bill, giving it the votes it needed to come to the floor of the Senate for a final vote, which it probably would have passed.

But then eight of these Democrats switched their votes at the last minute, thwarting the chance to protect girls like Crystal and Tamia.

While most Democrats in the Senate voted to kill the bill, the decision by these eight to switch their votes is what dealt the bill its final blow. Of these, four are up for reelection: Tom Carper of Delaware, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Bill Nelson of Florida.

They should know better.

The truth is, the bill didn’t just protect teens from predators. It would have protected many of their children from the ultimate child abuse: death by abortion.