Monday, June 20, 2005

Limited Choice: Texas is going another step further in restricting abortion rights -- soon to require girls under the age of 18 to get parental consent before terminating a pregnancy.

The state already has a parental notification law -- parents must be aware but don't necessarily have to give permission. The Houston Chronicle has an article about how this has changed girls' lives. One girl waited three months before she had the nerve to tell who parents, who ultimately convinced her to give the baby up for adoption. Another girl had to sit through a 45-minute discussion with a judge before finally getting permission to bypass notifying her drug-addict/violent mother.

I don't like parental-notification/consent laws. All they do is make a difficult situation that much harder. I had friends in high school who got pregnant. And I can't describe the relief they expressed when they found out that they could get an abortion without letting their parents know.

People say such a surgical procedure is too important of a decision for a teenager to make on her own. Well, carrying a pregnancy to term and becoming a mother is an even bigger decision. If you believe that teenagers aren't capable of making such decisions, then you should just as easily stand for a parental-consent law for baby delivery -- a teenager would be required to get an abortion unless she got consent from her parents to take her pregnancy to term.

That example, of course, is not to be taken seriously. But it shows that this flies in the face of pro-lifers who say this is a "parents issue" and not an "abortion issue". Parental consent laws are meant to restrict abortions, plain and simple.

The article does say that teen abortion rates have decreased noticeably since the notification law came into effect. It doesn't say whether teen pregnancy rates are down at all, though. And personally, I think we should work to create fewer teenage mothers, not more. The best way to do that is to educate teenagers to help them prevent getting pregnant in the first place.


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