Yesterday, New Hampshire repealed their law which required minors to notify their parents that they were getting an abortion (the 2003 law was never enforced, due to a law suit by Planned Parenthood stating that it did not make provisions for the health and safety of the minor). Parental notification means that one or both parents must be informed of a minor’s abortion before it can take place. Repealing this law, and others like it, is critical to maintaining the rights of our teenagers. Here are some clear positions on adolescent abortions that I hold to be self-evident:
- Delaying sexual intercourse is often in the psychological best-interest of young people.
- Nevertheless, teenagers must learn how to effectively and consistently use contraceptives, and they must follow-through on that knowledge when they make the choice to have sexual intercourse.
- Abortion is absolutely the last choice, when everything else has failed.
- It is best for all parties involved for teenagers to make the choice to have an abortion with a parent or other trusted adult.
- There are some parents who would not respond reasonably or appropriately to knowledge about their teenager daughter’s (a) sexual activity and (b) pregnant status.
- These young girls must, in some cases, be protected from their parents.
- Without legal access to abortions, some adolescent girls will seek out illegal abortions or try and perform one themselves.
This last point must be avoided at all costs. Parental notification laws leave girls who most need society’s help and support out in the cold. It is absolutely legitimate for abortion providers to encourage and support teenage girls in open conversation with their parents or another trusted adult.
The next step beyond parental NOTIFICATION laws are parental CONSENT laws. Parental consent laws are so outside the bounds of reasonableness that they should not even be discussed in polite company. To allow a parent to make the choice that their daughter must take a pregnancy to term is so vastly inappropriate I am almost unable to address the issue coherently. In Texas, we have a parental consent law. The closest place without such a parental notification or consent law is New Mexico. (Find out more about the state of abortion in your state.)
The thing is, I was born in 1979. I grew up in a post Roe vs. Wade world. I have always known, without a question of a doubt, that I and I alone control my reproductive system. Parental notification and consent laws undercut this most basic truth I have grown up taking for granted. Women of all ages have the sacred right and responsibility to give birth to and raise children only according to their means and ability at a given time.
So bravo, New Hampshire, for returning reproductive control squarely where it belongs: in the hands of individual women, regardless of their age.