Columnist Joseph Morgan’s op-ed regarding gubernatorial candidate David Garcia’s stance on parental consent for abortion reflects a monumental ignorance and insensitivity regarding the issue of reproductive rights, choice, teen pregnancy and parental authorization. Fortunately, for those who are willing to delve into the facts, the American Civil Liberties Union has a well-researched position on this issue that considers the legal, social, and health aspects regarding teen pregnancy, parental consent and abortion. I urge everyone to read it in full, but the salient points are as follows:
Most teens do voluntarily involve their parents in an abortion decision. When they don’t, they have a very good reason. Well-founded fears of homelessness and abuse top the list.
Mandating parental involvement jeopardizes the teenager’s health. Requiring parental consent results in delays and later term (more dangerous) procedures. Or, if the pregnancy is not terminated because of lack of parental consent, these young mothers end up suffering the physical, emotional, educational, economic, and social costs of teenage childbearing.
Leading medical groups including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association oppose mandating parental involvement. Why? It puts the teen’s health and safety at risk while not contributing to the strength of the family.
The mandates for parental consent unfairly single out those pregnant teens who choose abortion. Teenagers can consent on their own to services related to childbirth (including a cesarean section). They should also be able to consent to abortion on their own.
Court waivers are not real alternative for many young women. It can be intimidating and an invasion of privacy. It can also lead to delays.
I wonder if Morgan would feel so strongly if a boy’s control over his own body were in question. I suggest that he, and other men who will never have to deal firsthand with the realities of unwanted pregnancy, concern themselves with the issue of consent and how a girl becomes unintentionally pregnant in the first place.
Data show that two out of three of the fathers of pregnant teens are not teens themselves. This means that most pregnant teens are put in this position by older men who are committing a crime by not controlling their own bodies — a crime for which the girl will pay the price.