Parental Consent on Abortion for Minors
by Merissa Pence
Over many decades, there has been a debate on what information parents should be required to be informed about or even have to give consent. From ear piercings, and tattoos, and now abortions. This has been a major debate. Not only in the doctors’ offices, but also in the senate, all the way to the lives and homes of happy families. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are currently thirty-seven states that require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. I agree with these thirty-seven states that have made the parental consent a must. Girls under the age of eighteen are not mature enough to handle the obligations that a child entails. There are three main logical reasons as to why a parent should be notified: the psychological effects, social effects, and medical effects abortion can have on a minor without parental guidance are very substantial.
Imagine your daughter going through an abortion with no one by her side, her having to be alone through this hard decision in life, and mentally and emotionally miserable. This is a procedure that is hard for anyone to take in on their own—better yet a teenager. According to “Teens and Abortion,” “While adolescents are physically capable of having children, at this point in their psychological development, they are more likely to follow their immediate emotional responses then to rationally consider their options and their long-term consequences.” This means that minors are not capable to make reasonable decisions on their own. I do not believe that teenagers really take this issue seriously. When an individual aborts a life, they are taking a life way from this world that the individual chose to conceive.
“Teens and Abortion” also states women who have abortion are also at a higher risk of psychological and social problems, including drug and alcohol abuse, increased sexual promiscuity, and depression. All of these can lead to serious lifelong consequences. “Parents can help their children through the tough physical challenges and emotional issues that follow (abortion)” states “Teens and Abortion.” Minors need to have a second take on what they should do with their lives. Is it healthier for them to keep the child, or is it best for them to get an abortion? These are questions that teens can face their parents to help them answer. Although many teens are terrified to talk about sex with their parents, and better yet being pregnant at such a young age must also be hard on their psychological process as well.
Statistics also show the physiological harm that abortion can cause. Currently there are thirty-seven states that require parental consent for minors to receive an abortion, twenty-two states require parental consent only, three of which require both parents to consent, eleven states require parental notification only, one of which requires that both parents be notified, four states require both parental consent and notification, and seven states require the parental consent documentation to be notarized. There are obviously different views on this issue throughout the country. There should be a final decision throughout all states. Many doctors concerns have been that if minors get turned down in one state that requires parental consent, the minor will be willing to drive to a state that does not require consent. Tom Hamilton from The International Debate Education Association outlines the debate of parental consent very well.
Providing pros and cons for the reader. Having a PhD in ethics and philosophy of religion, Hamilton had important and informational points, one being “requiring parental consent will lead to a fail in the number of abortions. In Minnesota, the number of legal teenage abortions fell by twenty-five percent when this measure was introduced; in Virginia it fell by twenty percent.” With these statistics, not only can the abortion law clearly help those who are in the situation now, but it can also perhaps prevent teenagers from getting pregnant and having to face their parents for permission to abort.
Throughout these hard times for a teenager come some social issues that the teen will have to face. Not only will she have to face social issues with her family but with her friends at school, work, her boyfriend that contributed to the pregnancy, and ultimately affecting her whole lifestyle. In Teens and Abortion, one study found eighty-nine percent of minors reported they were happier for having told their parents. Having that said, the parental consent would ensure that the rest of the eleven percent of young women are just as happy as those eighty-nine percent of young women are after they tell their parents. Many problems can result in telling their parents that they are in need of an abortion. The pregnancy can put stress on an entire family, and even reflecting negatively toward other siblings. In Tom Hamilton’s study for parental consent on abortion, he also found that parents of the teenager also have to face the consequences of a teenage pregnancy. He states that since the majority of teenage mothers are 1) single, 2) living at home, 3) unemployed, 4) in full-time education. These factors would result in the grandparent taking care of the child. In proving his point, he says, “they should have a say on whether it is born in the first place.” These are all major factors that can all lead to social inabilities that can make or break a young women’s life.
Finally, the most imperative reason as to why parental consent for abortion should be legal is negative medical complications. Think about a young teenager that is not fully developed, creating another human being. There are many elements that need to be considered before even being sexually involved. Many scares of today’s society include STD’s, AIDS, etc. But not many girls are focused on if they are pregnant or not, they all take birth control. There is always a “what if” that needs to be filled with an answer before taking that huge chance.
From “Teens and Abortion,” they list many severe medical conditions that a teenager can face if they abort, “infertility, miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy, and premature birth of future children.” These are all very serious medical conditions that a teen must consider when going into the consideration of an abortion. “Studies also find adolescent suicides one year after an abortion to be significantly higher than adolescent suicide after childbirth.” Not only can the mother be hurt in many different ways, whether it be the here and now or the future. Also many teens do not get the proper education and follow-ups needed after an abortion. If they are trying to juggle this all on their own, they are not going to worry about their medical health. They are going to be focusing on making sure their parents do not find out. Also, “At the clinics, parents can help teens through medical crisis by being an important resource about family medical history, which can help determine if certain abortion methods pose special risks for the teen mother.” These are all valid points that are brought up by Teens and Abortion. There is a lot of information that must go into having an abortion and young teens might not have the right answers to all of the questions.
On the other hand, there are some reasons as to why there should be no legal consent law for minors to receive an abortion. One being if her father impregnated her, she may not be granted permission to get an abortion. Some teenagers can be in danger if they have to tell their mothers that their father raped them and now they need an abortion. This can cause violence and have very dangerous outcomes. Reporting for the San Francisco Chronicle, Steve Francis states that “parental notification actually puts female teens in harm’s way, as notifying an abusive father or mother of a pregnancy termination may result in retaliation.” There are many states that do allow the teenager to contact another family member including grandparents, aunts/uncles, and some even allowing the teenager to receive a waiver by judicial bypass. The individual can face many different difficulties at home and possibly in the relationship with the boy she is currently dating. For instance the boyfriend may want to try and abort the child himself rather than going through the process of having to get permission from her parents to abort the child.
From the National Abortion Federation, statistics show that “of teenage women who become pregnant, about thirty-five percent choose to have an abortion rather than bare a child.” That is a big percentage of teenagers that decide to have an abortion, but what percentage of those teenagers told their parents? If the parental consent law became legal and required in all fifty states, there could be a dramatic rate in abortions total, increase teens practicing safe sex, and protecting themselves and their personal heath.