In our country abortion is legal for those over the age of 18, except in South Dakota, which passed a law this year banning abortion except to save the life of a pregnant women. For teenage girls the law varies by state. Some states’ laws say that one or both parents must give permission for a girl under the age of 18 to receive an abortion. In other states the parents must be told 24 hours before the abortion occurs. Then there are the states where no parental permission is needed.
Under law parents have legal custody of their child until age 18. Yet some states undermine that right by determining that parents do not need notification for their minor daughter to have an abortion.
On the flip side most states have a policy similar to Minnesota state law that says that school nurses cannot even provide an aspirin to a student without parent permission and a doctor’s authorization.
So there are states like California where a teenager can have an abortion without her parents consent or even knowledge but cannot get an aspirin from the school nurse if she has a headache. Tell me where is the logic in that. An abortion can cause lasting physical and emotional damage and an aspirin well is just an aspirin. Yet one can be given a teenager without parental knowledge while the other cannot. What are the lawmakers thinking?
Recently national lawmakers recognized a parents need to know. In 2005 the House of Representatives passed the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act. In July of 2006 the bill passed the Senate and President Bush says that he will approve it as well. The main part of the bill states that it is a federal crime for anyone other than a girl’s parents to accompany her across state lines to receive an abortion.
In support of the bill President Bush said, “transporting minors across state lines to bypass parental consent laws regarding abortion undermines state law and jeopardizes the lives of young women.” Our country’s leaders recognize that abortion is a decision that parents need to be involved in. Yet some states have not.
California will be voting on a bill this year that will make it law for parents to be notified that their daughter is going to have an abortion at least 24 hours in advance. Voters in the November elections will determine if the Parents’ Right to Know and Child Protection Act, Prop 85 will become law. The law doesn’t require parental permission but it is a step in the right direction.
Some argue that parents do not need to know about their daughter’s abortion. That a parent’s knowledge might put the girl at risk of parental abuse. This is always a possibility. But a minor can report an abusive parent to social services and eliminate that factor. Also every state except Utah has an amendment that allows a teenager to get judicial consent for an abortion even if her parents refuse or if she does not want to tell them.
Notifying parents of an abortion is more likely to increase parent child communication and reduce teen pregnancy. A study titled “Analyzing the Effect of Pro-Life Legislation on the Incidence of Abortion Among Minors” found that parental involvement laws did help discourage teen pregnancy. Since teenagers realize that their parents will be notified if they choose an abortion they are less likely to get pregnant.
Check to see what the laws are about abortion in your state. You could someday be a parent who is not notified that your daughter is having an abortion until it is too late.