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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Minor Abortion Information
With less than a week before the California special elections, can we have a quick discussion about Prop 73? This is the one that requires parental notification 48 hours prior to performing abortion on a minor. (I don't think it actually requires consent, but that might be splitting hairs).

Here's the California Sec State voters guide (PDF).

The main argument against this seems to be, pregnant kids will get an abortion by hook or by crook (probably both, literally), so this proposition will result in kids dying from botched abortions.

Does this ring true? Did it really happen all the time prior to Roe, or is that just a myth?

On one hand, one cannot perform any sort of body piercing on a minor in California without parental consent (or notification?), so it seems obvious that abortion, not to mention any other medical procedure, should be in the same boat. On the other hand, the kid's desire to perform a piercing wouldn't be as desperate, or as seemingly necessary, or seemingly as possible to hide...

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm a little torn. I have two young daughters, for what it's worth.

And, if I may, I'd like to lay a couple of groundrules for this discussion: 1.) (Mainly for random commenters who might stumble across this) No hysterics, please. (No pun intended, by the way). 2.) For the purposes of this discussion, the issue of pros and cons of the existence of voter referendums is off the table.
This is always a heated debate. I'm for parental notification, myself, but here's the rub: If a girl doesn't feel free to go to her parents in the first place to ask for help, is notification any guarantee that they will begin to care all of a sudden? There are so many buts in the issue that it is very hard to address. Parental notification, in my mind, at least errs on the side of caution if it errs at all. I'd LOVE to think that seeing a child in some kind of trouble, good parents would go to her and envelop and support and help her, as I would. Not all parents are good parents. Not all good parents are clear minded all the time, when their children are concerned, either. A great topic, Ralphie.
Parents should be notified about a lot of things. Are schools required by law to notify parents if their child is failing? Are the police required to notify parents if their child is arrested? I don't know the answer to these quesions, but I'll vote in favor of Prop 73 because it seems like the right thing to do.
In her emotional turmoil, a child may try to hide an abortion even from parents and other adults who would be understanding. As for notifications, I get phone calls from the public high school whenever my step-daugther misses class, and that isn't nearly as critical a matter; I think notification for a major medical procedure is appropriate.
(I hope that wasn't hysterical. But I've had a hysterectomy, so I can't be hysterical anymore, can I?)
Not hysterical at all - perhaps a little too much info in your second comment, but why quibble?

Your first comment, while not hysterical, brings up the exact tension inherent in this issue. A girl. in emotional turmoil, wants to hide an abortion. She knows it's now the law that her doctor/clinician/whatever must inform her parents. Because of aforementioned emotional turmoil and desire to keep it all secret, will she turn to some sort of other method for the abortion?
Sorry, this is a no-brainer for me! I'm voting NO on 73. I'm fortunate to be a rich white yuppie Jew with a wonderful daughter with whom I'm close. But that's not the real world for everyone. If teens have no one to turn to when they find themselves with unwanted pregnancies, it's in everyone's interests to keep abortion safe and accessible. I believe this is a Jewish issue as well. We must show kindness and compassion to young women who are pregnant from rape, incest, ignorance , etc. who for some reason don't have parents whom they can turn to for support. This isn't so far-fetched. Realistically, we can't stop teens from having sex. But we as a society must help them when they make mistakes. What if you had no one to confide in?
"Sorry, this is a no-brainer for me! I'm voting NO on 73."

Then maybe you should get to the real world and see what is going on. Voting "no" makes the real word harsher, not more understanding. Come back when you have been at arms length to that situation fifteen or twenty times, and then you'll be qualified to vote yes or no. Based on your explanation of your reasons, you aren't.
This is one of those situations where there is no position that's suitable to every situation. The trouble is, the law will make a rule that will be applied to everyone, without taking their personal circumstances into account.

I think it's perfectly valid to suppose that some children would hide their pregnancy from their parents unnecessarily. They know it would be a difficult conversation, they don't enjoy conflict (who does?), so they keep it a secret. But if their parents are loving and responsible folk, I agree that they should be notified. The teenager will be better off in the long run.

I agree with those who argue that abortion may have a lasting psychological impact. It's a big event to sort out in one's mind. It isn't just a matter of hiding the medical procedure. It's a matter of not being able to turn to one's parents for ongoing support after the abortion is done.

But I also recognize that there are parents who would absolutely not be supportive and constructive in their input. In those cases, the child is justified in hiding the pregnancy and the abortion from her parents, and seeking support elsewhere.

I wonder if the law could require that some trusted adult be notified, but not necessarily the parents? I just hate to see these young women turning only to fellow teenagers to process such a major event.

By the way, I am pro life. It is possible to be pro life but to talk about this issue rationally (not hysterically).
anonymous - could you please elaborate? How would the world become harsher by voting against parental notification? What kind of situations are you talking about, and how would experience of them move one to desire parental notification? In what capacity have you been involved in such situations?
Parental notification laws make it way more likely that teens will refrain from doing anything that can possibly result in pregnancy. Teens never want their parents to know anything.

Nother question you asked: in the bad old days before Roe v Wade, there were very few botched abortions or back alley abortions or coat hanger abortions -- if any. The vast majority of abortions were performed by doctors in their own offices, after hours, no office staff, cash only.

There are more botched abortions today, and more maternal deaths from abortion, than there were in the fifties. Not more per capita, of course, but just more. The reason is that so many more abortions are performed nowadays, and some of them, inevitably, are botched. Some abortionists are really bad doctors, too, people who have lost their medical licenses more than once and been forced to move from state to state. Some are idealists who sincerely want to help women but others are little more than mercenary butchers. You have to wonder what kind of man -- able to choose any field of medicine -- would choose to do D&Cs all day every day for a living.
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