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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Parental Notification

Ezra Klein links to this blog post as a reason to oppose parental notification laws. Here is what I said in the comments on Klein's blog, I am repeating it here because I think it very important. A truly tragic story. Like all of these stories I have seen so far though, it does not convince me to reject parental notification laws. What this girl really needed was not an abortion (although I don't necessarily disagree with her decision to get one) but she needed an adult who could help her deal with her problems, and quite possibly to be removed from the care of her family. The solution that you propose, that we should simply abandon girls like this and provide her the tools to deal with her most acute problems, but no motivation or help with the truly signifigant ones seems extremely cold hearted to me. I will back up anyone on having as a part of parental control laws a strong system of counseling and child protective services to deal with this sort of problem. The idea though that a 13 yo girl, when having these sort of problems and facing the need for an abortion should just have minimal tools to try and be self reliant is repellent however. If the girl had been forced to deal with an adult at 13 when she became pregnant, a lot of her later pain could have been spared. Yes, sometimes parents are bad parents. But the solution is not to hide this, but to force it out in the open and get the fundamental problems solved.


Anonymous tsykoduk said...

"I will back up anyone on having as a part of parental control laws a strong system of counseling and child protective services to deal with this sort of problem. The idea though that a 13 yo girl, when having these sort of problems and facing the need for an abortion should just have minimal tools to try and be self reliant is repellent however."

Since Parents can be held liable under most state laws for some of their children's action, you betcha that I think that parents should be notified. Parental notification is a seprate issue from the social safteynet that failed that girl.

That social saftey net must be in place for those children that need it, until every parent is perfect. It should not be a knee-jerk response of removal, however. It should be a compassionate hand up for the entire family unit. The girl was broken by a failure of the entire family - and probally has cost the tax payers more over the years then the saftey net would have cost.

6/14/2005 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Random Gemini said...

I disagree with the idea of parental notification.

It hurts me to say this, because I know that if my either of my children ever became involved in this circumstance, I would so desperately want them to be able to tell me so that I can help them. The thought that they might not ask for my help brings tears to my eyes. *reaches for the kleenex*

But.. having been a pregnant teenager, I know how terrifying it is to talk to your parents about sex. My parents are probably the most laid back parents I know, and still at 17, when I was pregnant with my first child, I was too afraid to tell them. I knew, almost to the day, that I was pregnant. I didn't actually admit it to them until I was five months along, even though they'd already figured it out. I had to have a stranger on a crisis pregnancy hotline convince me to tell them the truth.

Can you imagine what it was like? Being young, and responsible for another life and having no clue what to do, but only wanting to do what is best for this new life growing inside you? Can you imagine the terror at the idea that you might disappoint your parents because you couldn't keep a quarter between your knees?

Can you imagine any of that?

I don't think either of you can.

As a girl, you're brought up to believe that sex and the refusal of having sex with someone is entirely your responsibility. Birth control is entirely your responsibility. Sex ed does not prepare you for what to do when you say no and someone presses their advantage regardless of what you have said. Parents cannot prepare you for that moment. If you get pregnant before you get married, people look at you like you're a scar on the face of society. They don't look at the male that knocked you up that way, but they certainly do stare at you.

I would rather my daughter have access to a safe, legal abortion than do something that is unsafe, and illegal to avoid telling me the truth. I would rather have her lie to me about having the procedure done than risk her life to hide it from me. I'd rather have her here with me, any day of the week.

6/15/2005 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I don't think it is a simple choice between a safe, secret abortion and a unsafe actions.

From what I understand, getting an abortion can be quite mentally traumatic in an of itself, beyond whatever issues led to the need for an abortion.

So there is a third alternative here, your daughter, getting her safe, secret, abortion becomes very depressed. You have no idea of the cause of this, and quite possibly think it just a 'faze' because you have not been informed of what is going on. Worse case scenario is suicide.

I don't know how likely that scenario is. My belief is that it is about as likely, possibly more likely than the 'back alley' abortion option.

Certainly some girls, even without parental notification laws, will try alternate, and unsafe, methods to end a pregnancy. Certainly some girls will never be able to build a good relationship and get the support they need from their parents. We have to craft laws that help the most though, and then try and find methods to help the rest.

I worry as much about the safety girl that has the 'secret' abortion and has to rely on herself as I do about those who try alternate methods of ending a pregnancy. We need to find a way to help both of them, not just pretend that the first one will be fine.

6/16/2005 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Random Gemini said...

This is why clinics that offer abortion services also have required counselling before you can undergo the procedure. If they feel that you are mentally incapable of handling the consequences of an abortion, they can and will refuse services to you.

6/16/2005 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

Theoretically that may be true.

Granted, this link is from a pro-life site. But it talks about increased risk of suicide after an abortion. It quotes several studies that appear reputable.

It this is the increased risk after the weeding out and counceling you talk about it is very good that they are doing that, or the numbers would be even worse. In practicallity, I wonder how many Women (or teens) are refused an abortion for this reason. My guess is very very few.

One could say that the numbers don't matter here. That pure principle is involved and if 1000 young girls would die because of parental notification and 100 would live because of it, or if the numbers were reversed, and 100 would die and 1000 would live it doesn't matter.

I though, am striving for those numbers to be zero. Since getting an abortion is a single time event, but dealing with the consequences is a more lengthy challenge, I think that the state is more suited to handling issues of the former (advocating for a girl's desire for an abortion, protecting her if need be from her family, providing counciling to the family) and families are more suited to the latter, coping with the long term effect of this decision, but to do so they need to be informed.

I don't know that there is any way to gather data on how many would die in each scenario. I am willing, as I said, to support any reasonable means that will provide support to keep girls out of the 'back alley clinics' or from using the 'hit my in the stomach' method.

I think that we can make those numbers very few, and comparable to the numbers that exist without the parental notification laws (even with easily availible abortions for minors, some choose the 'hit me in the stomach' method)

If we go without parentental notification however, how do you address the compelling problems of depression, suicide, and substance abuse that so often follow and abortion while keeping parents in the dark?

6/16/2005 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Random Gemini said...

You ask a very valid question here, one that I don't have an answer for.

What I can tell you is that this harkens back to my old argument that some people simply shouldn't be allowed to reproduce. A parent that isn't willing to be supportive of their child in a situation like this really needs some therapy. But I'm not certain that these situations are as black and white to identify as you seem to be aruging here.

A lack of history of reported abuse does not mean that abuse does not happen. A lack of emotional support from a family is not something that we can govern by law. There is no way to fix some of the things that are broken here.

6/17/2005 04:55:00 PM  

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