Thursday, February 07, 2008

Abortion and Parental Notification Laws

Parental notification laws on abortion seem like a good idea. I wouldn't want my sons (when they were minors) to have had surgery without my knowing; what if they had a reaction or infection and I didn't know that the surgery was a possible cause? Heck, they couldn't even get a tattoo or piercing without my permission until they were 18. But then, I'm not the problem parent that notification laws empower. I'm not, for example, the kind of parent who did this.

I knew from things Mary had said that Jill's parents were hard on her, but I didn't know the extent of her problems at home. When Jill took my advice and told her parents she was pregnant, her father beat her so badly she ended up in the hospital and lost the baby.

Are teenage girls the best judge of how their parents will react? Maybe so, maybe not, but why take a chance on this possible outcome? Kudos to Dear Abby for her response to the woman (whose daughter is the friend of the girl who was beaten):

What you failed to take into consideration was the fact that many teens live in homes where there is violence, abuse, drug problems and incest.

A year ago here in California, there was an attempt to legislate "parental notification" into law. Fortunately, it was voted down. It's teens like your daughter's friend who would have been harmed by this kind of law. They certainly cannot go to their parents -- and I have never believed that the law can successfully force this kind of communication with the home.

Of course parents want their children -- regardless of age -- to come to them if there is a crisis. And I am told that seven out of 10 teens who find themselves pregnant do exactly that. However, those who don't usually have a good reason for not doing so.

Most of the teens whose parents will be supportive and helpful (or at least won't commit assault on them) already talk to their parents about their serious problems, including pregnancy. The law is only forcing teens who don't have a good relationship with their parents to tell something private to someone they fear may be dangerous to them.

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