Abortion And Parental Consent

  • Category: Govt & Politics
  • Words: 1342
  • Grade: 85


Consulting in a Parent?
Research paper

        For many decades abortion has been a major issue for controversy in the US. More recently the right of minors, under the age of 18, to have an abortion without parental consent has caused many arguments and has posed many valid points on both sides of the issue. Supporters of restrictions on teenagers state that it would be better for the child in the long run to involve her parents in the decision. Opponents to this claim that laws are not necessary to make teens tell their parents because most girls who live in stable households already consult them to help in this decision (Harris).
        The initial limiting of rights to minors happened in 1976. This caused many states to start what are now known as Parental Notification Laws and Parental Consent Laws (Harris). The notification laws require either the girl or the doctor to notify one or both of the parents of the abortion prior to the procedure. The consent laws require that one or both of the parents give either written or verbal permission before the procedure takes place (Meier). These states feel that these laws help young woman to make the right decision by forcing them to consult their parents.
        In the states that have these restriction laws many also have judicial bypass laws ("Lawmakers"). A judicial bypass law allows a girl to have a judge decide if she can bypass the notification or consent laws. This is only done if she has a sound reason for not involving their parents. Such as in the case of incest or if she fears abuse from someone at home. The judge bases his ruling on the maturity level of the girl and of the reason for the abortion. If the judge rules that it is in the best interest of the girl to get the abortion without parental involvement of any kind the notification laws are obsolete for her.
        Many worry that abortion is used as a way to cope with the shock of becoming pregnant and they believe that making this decision alone causes the outcomes to be much worse. Studies that the supporters of these laws have conducted show that 20% of teens become depressed after having an abortion. Other side effects that these girls might experience, that many feel could be reduced by parental support, include the feeling of guilt, attachment to the aborted fetus, and grief. Many girls have also reported repeated nightmares that involve the sight of dismembered fetuses and the idea of punishment. A more serious consequence may be unresolved emotions resurfacing. There have been many cases in which teens after having an abortion turn to violence in order to express these emotions. In one case a girl tried to start a clinic on fire that was being opened on the day of her abortion anniversary. There have also been instances where girls have attempted suicide because they claim they want to be with their babies. In addition, many girls have been found to become pregnant again to make up for the guilt that they feel (Speckhard).
        Supporters also think that it will help strengthen the family ties to make the girl talk to her parents about making this decision. They believe that if the teen is forced to involve her parents that it will increase the trust within the family and keep the family unit intact. Also, since in most cases the young girl has not had many experiences in her life her parents can add to her lack of decision making skills (Harris). Supporters say that a child under 18 is still a minor and should not be able to make this decision alone.
        However, that poses a major controversy that concerns this issue. When should states allow children to make their own decisions? Many examples of when there is no clear line between a minor and someone of legal age is in decisions such as education, health care, and adoption ("Lawmakers"). This makes it hard for both sides of the issue to make any legal point.
        Opponents to restrictions on abortions believe that abortions should also be one of the loopholes in the system for teens. They claim that since we already allow many important decisions to be made by minors that we should also let them make the decision as to whether or not they feel they should raise a child. Currently 45 states have no restrictions on a minor giving a child up for adoption. Also, for the past 20-30 years the laws stating that parents must make all medical decisions for their underage children have been used very loosely. Everyday we are allowing teenagers to make decisions about their healthcare, including drug treatment and other reproductive care ("Lawmakers").
        In 1998, The Alan Guttmacher Institute conducted a survey asking teenagers why they chose to have an abortion. The top three responses were the changes in their lives that a baby would bring, lack of maturity, and financial problems ("Pregnancy"). This shows that even with lack of many experiences young woman know the seriousness of having a baby and they realize that in their lives it is not a viable option.
        The opponents have also found many problems in the notification and consent laws. First, they claim that most teens will confront their parents with the decision even without the laws, making them obsolete. Secondly, they have found that when the teens decide not to confide in their parents it is often for good reason such as violence in the household and pregnancy due to incest ("Minor's"). Although supporters claim that judicial bypass helps girls in circumstances like these many times a judge will be close minded and only use his own views to make the decision against underage abortion or some will simply refuse to hear a case ("Pregnancy").
        Judge Mark Anderson from Montgomery, Alabama, is notorious for doing just that. He has been known to appoint a lawyer to represent the fetus in order to give the fetus "an opportunity to have a voice, even a vicarious one, in the decision making." In one case that he did decide to hear he denied a 16-year old consent because he stated, "She goes to church but she testified that she had not considered the spiritual aspects of her decision" (Bach).
        There is also the amount of time that judicial bypass consumes that needs to be considered. Delaying an abortion in any woman could cause an increased instance of severe complications ("Pregnancy"). Young women have more instances of complications even without the delay of the bypass. The price of the abortion is also increased as time progresses.
        The opposition to the parental notification laws also says that the side effects that are often used by the supporters do not have enough background on the girls that were studied. For example, statistics of depression after an abortion do not always include the instance of depression before the abortion in the same girls. Also the studies to not take into consideration that teenagers that come from households that are already unstable and abusive are not going to have an easy time relating to any drastic decision ("Pregnancy").
        Whether or not you agree with either side of the issue it is clear to see that this is a major problem facing our nation today. Many young girls are faced with this decision everyday and until a happy medium is reached many will suffer from it. It is important when taking a side on this issue to think of the girls that do not have average cases and realize that we have to consider them too. For the sake of young girls an end must come to this controversy.        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        


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