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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Putting a face on parental notice

There are obvious arguments for parental notice before teens get abortions. Parents are responsible for their children's welfare. We don't want parents to be blindsided when their daughters have abortion complications. And of course, parents can offer support to their children, bringing down the number of abortions.

But the other side is powerful and has lots of money to spend, so sometimes cold hard logic just isn't enough. That's why Alaskans for Parental Rights has shared some more personal stories from families impacted by the lack of a parental notice law in that state.

The most heartbreaking is the story of a grandmother named Anna. Her daughter Jane told her about the pregnancy, and together they excitedly prepared for the child's birth. But the baby's father felt differently, and bribed the vulnerable 17-year-old into killing the baby:
Then came the boyfriend’s “speech.”

It began with, “Don't tell your family,” explained Anna, who with Jane, later found the boyfriend’s highly crafted, typewritten draft.

“Here is the need for parental notification,” Anna stressed. “Manipulative boyfriend. ‘Don't tell.’”

“Isn't that what every abuser does to his victim — gets them into a ‘Don't tell’ situation?’” Anna observed.

She said the boyfriend went on to warn Jane that if she had the baby, he'd lose out on medical school and they'd end up poor in a trailer. He urged her to abort for the sake of “our children” — the children planned for later.

Anna said her daughter resisted, still insisting that she could have her baby.

Across the next weeks, the boyfriend began acting despondent. Finally, he told Jane she had two weeks to get an abortion or he would kill himself, Anna recalled.

“I finally said, ‘OK,’” Jane later explained to her mother. “I didn't say, ‘Yes.’”

The boyfriend flew Jane to Seattle, where Alaska abortion clinics often refer late-term pregnant mothers. As with Alaska, Washington does not require abortion practitioners to notify a minor girl’s parent before performing an abortion on her.

The day of the secret abortion, Jane was 17 years old. Her unborn baby daughter was heading into her sixth month.
[Update: Jill Stanek solicits your advice for a woman in a similar situation.] I also thought the testimony from pro-life clinic volunteers was enlightening:
Parental notification opponents — like Planned Parenthood of Anchorage, an affiliate of the nation’s billion-dollar abortion operation — argue that parental involvement laws wrongly “mandate” communication between parent and child and put girls in abusive situations at risk.

Heidi Navarro disagrees. She is the client services director at CPC of Anchorage – a pregnancy help center that provides free pregnancy tests, counseling, parenting classes, material support, STD testing and ultrasounds to women and girls in crisis. The CPC sees about a thousand clients a year. In 2009, 172 girls, ages 15-19, came to the CPC for help – and 7 under the age of 15.

Navarro estimates about a third of those girls don't have good relationships with their parents and some of them are “couch-surfing” between friends’ houses.

Navarro believes a parental notification law would help open the lines of communication to parents – and the lack of a law only keeps those girls isolated.
Additional testimonials can be found on the Yes on 2 campaign website. If you have a parental notice story to share, I encourage you to contact Alaskans for Parental Rights.

I leave you with my favorite political cartoons on the issue, both by Glenn McCoy of the Belleville News-Democrat.

1 comment:

Michelle Ye Zhang said...

The biggest medical reason for parental consent is that OTHER procedures that can be crucial to helping someone in a botched abortion situation require parental consent. If you don't have parental consent for abortion and something goes wrong, then there is going to be much difficulty giving the girl proper medical treatment.