“The Desire for Parents”
“The desire for parents to be involved in important decisions in their children’s ` lives are understandable, however parental protectiveness could trump a person’s right to her own body and her own future.” (Valenti, 2016). According to Merriam-Webster, abortions are the termination of a pregnancy after accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus. In most scenarios, women undergo this procedure because they were not financially stable, or experienced sexual
harassment in their life. In 2013, thirty-nine states in the U.S enforced a law that required young ladies to grant permission from a parent/guardian to obtain an abortion. However, research has proven that these notification laws do more harm to the adolescent than good. In agreement, England, Wales, and Scotland carry out abortions with the Abortion Act of 1967. The Act granted access for teenagers to undergo an abortion without parental knowledge. Although, the adolescent would have to fully
understand the health risks that are possible in result of the procedure. There are arguments that parental consent laws are effective and ineffective. This brings us to the idea. To what extent does parent involvement have on their child health. More specifically, should parental consent be required for teenagers to undergo an abortion?
The point of parental consent laws is to obligate teens to acquire the consent of their parent or guardian to proceed in abortion services. In the United States, 21 states enforced the parental consent laws in which at least, one parent must provide consent before a minor, aged 18 or younger, obtain an abortion. (Guttmacher Institute, 2019). Research showed that teen pregnancies are most commonly associated with poor social and economic conditions and future prospects for teens (Sedgh, 2015). However,
Switzerland has a low teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates. In Switzerland, they have, “long establishes sex education programs, free family planning services and low-cost emergency contraception which are available for sexually active teens” (Sedgh, 2005). Compared to the U.S, teenagers do not have the extensive amount of sex education. For example, in the United States, Vice President of Education at Planned Parenthood stated, “Sex education is essential to adolescents’ overall health
and well-being. The fact that young people in so many states are being deprived of information critical to their sexual health is unacceptable” (Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 2015). People believe that if schools educated their students about sexual intercourse, then the students would have a better understanding on what they are getting into.
Awaiting parental permission to obtain an abortion could cause medical harm to teens. “Making it mandatory to tell parents doesn’t improve family communication, it delays appropriate medical care and increase the number of teen births.” (McCarthy, 2017). This means that waiting for consent from a parent or guardian makes it difficult for the doctors to operate on the patient due to how far along she is in the pregnancy. Due to its difficulty, teenagers are required to proceed in the pregnancy. For
instance, the percentage of second-trimester abortions to underage adolescents increased in states such as Texas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Missouri, the authors wrote — in part because adolescents suspect pregnancy later than adults and partly because mandatory consent laws delay their access to abortion (Walker, 2017). Adolescent mothers waiting for parent approval could have negative effects on the mother. If parental consent laws weren’t in effect, the teenager would not have to go through
the side effects as they wait for their parent to be ok with the pregnancy. The increase of second-trimester abortions puts the young woman at risk. Therefore, rather than helping teens it can harm them as well. Not only that, waiting a long time for parent consent could increase the number of births. “When acquired legally only 0.3 percent of abortion patients experience complications, and 0.6 out of 100,000 abortion procedures result in death” (Banigan, 2015).
In certain living situations, it is ineffective for a teenager to communicate with their parent/guardian due to forms of abuse. For example, In Spain, people have their concerns about a proposed bill dealing with abortion in young woman and woman. It has been said that the proposed bill will, “require that women and girls pregnant as a result of rape report the crime to the police before they can access a safe and legal abortion” (Amnesty International). To clarify, this bill will order a young woman
to report their experience of sexual abuse before getting an abortion. It’s possible that this bill could cause physiological harm to teens because they have to revisit a dark time in their lives. In agreement, South Africa also allowed abortion to any woman within the first trimester of pregnancy if the mother’s social or economic situation is not stable, or if the pregnancy results from rape or incest (Ralston, 2008). “Any woman” refers to teens as well. In South Africa, an act was made which
required medical professionals to inform the teen parent or guardian about the procedure. However, this act made an exception to a young woman who wishes to not inform their parent about the procedure due to sexual abuse by the parent. If the minor deemed to be sexually abused, then they shall continue with the termination of pregnancy services (British Medical Bulletin). This means that pregnant teens who were exposed to sexual violence/sexual harassment shall be granted to receive an abortion
without parental knowledge. Parental consent laws would not be safe if they ignore teenagers experiences with sexual assault.
Involvement laws for abortion could lead teens to travel to other states or countries that do not require consent for abortion laws. In the United States, statistics have shown that 39% of woman are currently living in counties that do not have access to abortion services. This is unfair to a woman because it takes away their reproductive rights to her own body. In the landmark case Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court Justices decided that the U.S Constitution gives “a guarantee of certain areas or zones
of privacy” and that “this right of privacy…is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy” ( ). This decision grants access to abortion to all woman and can do so in private. Because of the decision on this case, it brings to question if minors have the right to terminate their pregnancy in private. If so, then parental consent laws would violate their rights as a citizen of the United States.
In some ways, it is difficult to measure parental involvement in abortion compared to other situations. “Societies around the globe recognize parents as having certain responsibilities.” For example, if a teenage driver gets into a car accident, it is the parents that are responsible for paying for the damage. Having an abortion is a surgical procedure. If a child were having his tonsils taken out, the hospital would require a signed form from the parents. However, in Australia, children under the
age of 18 years old are “capable of giving effective consent to the medical procedure if he/she fully comprehends the nature and consequences of the proposed procedure, irrespective of whether a parent consents “(Family Planning Association of WA, 2007). Abortions are a life-threatening procedure compared to a child having their tonsils taken out. It is hard to measure parental involvement when you compare it to these situations that do involve a parent. “When acquired legally only 0.3 percent
of abortion patients experience complications, and 0.6 out of 100,000 abortion procedures result in death” (Banigan, 2015). It is a risky decision knowing that when teenagers undergo the procedure without parental knowledge that may be the last time a parent will see their child.
Parental consent laws could protect young girls from predators. A study was conducted in California with over 46,000 pregnancies in adolescents, the research found that 71 percent of these young women were impregnated by post-high-school men who were about five years older than the adolescent mother (Collet, 2012). Parents would know how to take the legal step in these certain situations. For Instance, parents would report to the police and contact a lawyer. It is unlikely for teens to report such
crimes because of the emotional distress that they’ve been through. Parents believe that they should be involved rather than pushed away. It is necessary for parents to be aware of the safety of their child because teens could be traumatized because they were raped. This involvement of parents would mean that teenagers would less likely be exposed to older men and experience statutory rape.
Given this information, in this controversial debate, I am in between on whether parental consent laws should be allowed. I believe that parental consent laws should be required for for other medical procedures, parental consent is required for operations. Parents take full responsibility for their child especially if their child dies. Therefore, it is crucial for parents to be informed when their teenage daughter is about to undergo a surgical procedure. However, considering that in different
living situations it could be difficult for teenagers to communicate with their parents about abortion because of the adolescent fears of being kicked out. Research showed that twenty-two percent of teens who refuse to tell their parent about their abortion decision feared that they would get kicked out of the house (American Civil Liberties Union). In addition, eight percent of teen feared that they would be physically abused by parents because they have done so before. Unfortunately, fifty percent of pregnant teens have experienced violence. Analyzing these factors makes me concerned about to physiological harm that parental consent laws could cause in adolescent mothers.
Teenage girls deserve the right to be able to receive all types of reproductive services including abortions. And right now, young people are at the forefront of the reproductive rights, health, and justice movements. (Advocates Youth) Activists must stand with them against the harmful parental involvement restrictions that can put their health and well be at risk. Yet few are fighting to abolish parental involvement laws; and even when proactive abortion rights legislation is introduced, it rarely,
if ever, addresses minors’ needs. Legislation which seeks to protect women’s access to abortion must include younger women and protect their access to safe, legal, and affordable abortion care. The law would rather serve parents than teens.