Thursday, January 27, 2005

Not the best way to reach "safe, legal, and rare"

I have long been bewildered by what the logic might be behind laws requiring minors to get parental consent prior to having abortions, when it's quite obvious that having a child at 15 screws the typical female over a whole lot more than having one unintentionally at 20 or 25. The law tends to look at minors as not yet fully capable of looking after their own or society's interests, so how did it come to pass that the "stupid" act minors are being prevented from doing is ending the pregnancy, when clearly, from the perspective of both the teenager and society, the kid continuing her pregnancy to full term is probably not the best idea?

My own take on the issue is that abortion should be, as many others also believe, "safe, legal, and rare." I do not go for the whole Barbara Ehrenreich line of thought, where abortions are to be looked upon as sometimes necessary and thus always an option to use with pride. I am not entirely sure what, morally, an adult woman capable of caring for a baby but having not planned to get pregnant should do, whether an abortion in such a case is the best idea. Whenever possible, adult women who don't want to get pregnant should take precautions. The adult woman who finds herself pregnant because, oops, the guy didn't bring condoms and she had stopped taking the pill, does not get as much of my sympathy as the teenager who wasn't thinking, and then found herself in a mess.

In other words, in the quest to make abortion rare, why not emphasize responsibility on the part of sexually-active adults, both men and women, rather than restrict abortions for the one group of pregnant individuals who can be pushed around most easily by the law, but who stand to benefit the most from the right to an abortion?

7 comments:

Daniel said...

I think the idea is that we don't allow minors to have any other medical procedure without parental consent, so we certainly shouldn't leave this decision up to not fully responsible adults (in theory, I guess, adults have more responsibility than minors).

"In other words, in the quest to make abortion rare, why not emphasize responsibility on the part of sexually-active adults, both men and women, rather than restrict abortions for the one group of pregnant individuals who can be pushed around most easily by the law, but who stand to benefit the most from the right to an abortion?"

I agree with the first part of the statement, but I don't think that requiring parental consent is the same as restricting abortions. More likely, it's meant to make sure that parents have some control and responsibility in their children's life (You know, parents know best and all that).

Anonymous said...

It is precisely the scared, teenager, who cannot tell her parents about her pregnancy (likely the first they'd know that she was sexually active) who will be driven to an unsafe abortion and/or having the baby and "disposing" of it. A girl who is able to tell her mother/ father about the pregnancy, is likely to have parental approval and support for an abortion. Birth control (with the fundamentalists oppose) would prevent most pregnancies, but they all have failure rates. Logic tells us that morning after pills like "Plan B" are better than waiting for an abortion, but again the moralists are opposed. And because politics are at the heart of much of this, women's health is ignored. I'll stop here, but notice as I have how many "right to life" spokespersons are male, not to mention those in Congress on up to Bush, who speak about the sanctity of life. They identify with the fetus, and not the pregnant woman; I guess because they were once the former and will never be the latter. --JM

Dylan said...

I suspect the risk of illegal/sketchy abortions by teens afraid of telling their parents is far, far less than those who would prefer not to, but when forced find the parents suggest adoption or offer to raise the child themselves. From the perspective of those in favor of these laws, the likelihood of ruining the teenage mother's life is, if not irrelevant, greatly outweighed by the chance to save the baby.

Maureen said...

Would that it were, Dan. Would that it were.

Anonymous said...

You're thinking of the law from the perspective of someone who's pro-choice. The rationale behind the law is that requiring parental notification will lower the number of abortions as a lot of parents will refuse to sign.

Anonymous said...

Another point: so many opponents to abortion, and even some proponents of adoption, forget (maybe because a good number are male) that before there is a baby to adopt, there are nine months of pregnancy and then labor and childbirth. This is what a pregnant woman, be she 26, 18, 16, or 12, will live through. There is no fast-forward to the happy part where a loving (hetero, since in states like Florida gay people are barred from adoption) couple adopt a "perfect" baby. The missing ingredient is reality -- what about imperfect babies, what about the life (physical, emotional, mental, economic, social) of the mother? So neat for those who prefer to focus on "pre-born/ unborn." So nice to skip the messy aspects of real life. Ignorance is bliss, and a danger to us all. --JM

ccc said...

The (anti-choice) people who push for parental consent never address what should be done if the parents want abortion and the 14 year old wants to have/keep the baby, thus belieing their true intent: not parental decision-making, but fewer abortions.