Guest Author - Suzanne Gregory
Clearly, parental rights can be a very gray area. No one wants to be told how to parent, or raise his or her kids. Any parent, who has ever felt the sting of disapproval, either real or imagined, by another adult, knows it is a very thin line. Add parental rights with regard to abortion, and the opposing differences hit a whole other level.
Being a parent, I knew that I would learn things from finding out more about parental involvement and abortion. I did not know that I would be bothered by my findings, regarding a law purposely written to protect our children.
Over 30 U.S States have parental involvement laws on abortion. They typically place restrictions on teens seeking an abortion without first either notifying one or both parents, and/or can include requiring consent of a parent prior to having an abortion.
First, I do not agree with having parental consent. I understand the reasoning behind it. I think however, it adds more possibly damaging outcomes than benefits. If the teen wants to terminate the pregnancy, the consent law is taking her right to choose away. Some would argue it should be the right of the parent. Abortion is an incredibly personal decision, so outside influences should be limited to information, from all options on making the right decision for the teen, not the opinion or feeling of a parent.
The teen is the one who has to live the rest of their life, living with the consequences of the choice. If a parent does not consent to the teen wanting an abortion, where is the protection of the teen for those ramifications?
What if the teen had actually been raped, and decided not to reveal the crime? Rape goes unreported everyday for numbers of reasons. Will the teen ever be able to have the important close-knit relationship with their parents, as they should, if a parent completely disregards the teen’s choice? Where is the study on the effects of a teen’s emotional health if a parent refuses to consent?
What if the parent has been secretly abusing his daughter sexually? There is an enormous amount of gray area! Consider all the things the teen would have to live with forever. What scenarios will be emotionally damaging to someone not ready or willing to have a baby, whose parents made it impossible not too?
Something really bothers me about what the law does not even mention. To be honest, I thought when I saw the words ‘’Parental Involvement’’, that it actually meant protection of the teens constitutional rights as well as human rights. It does not.
Where is the part of the law that also protects the teen from being forced to abort, or put up the baby for adoption? The number of reported parental forced abortions is the worst statistic of them all. For the thousands there are- there is thousands that are never even spoken about.
Maybe the law should include mandatory counseling for a solid week, before a decision can be made. For any parents of pregnant teens and for the teens themselves, Counseled separately & together. That way all feeling will be known prior to making a final decision, and the counselor can protect the teen’s wishes, in case they differ from the parents.
A teen that is being pushed in any direction by a parent, is not going to just spill, that they are being forced to do something they do not want to do. The teen has to go home with the parent! A week gives everyone a chance to calm down some, and think more rationally, and the counseling helps mediate and protect the teen. Where is the protection from negative parental involvement?
When I say I am Pro-Choice, that is exactly what I mean. Choice dictated by anyone other than the pregnant woman is not choice.