The Kentucky Enquirer,
Laws that require parental notification or consent before a teenager has an abortion dont do much to reduce the teen abortion rate, according to a New York Times analysis. Critics of the laws say its proof the laws have little use and only serve to chip away at abortion rights.
But, as in so many other aspects of the highly polarized abortion debate, there are wider issues at hand than simply the effect these laws on the books in both Ohio and Kentucky have on restricting or abetting the availability of abortion.
Chief among them so often forgotten in the heated rhetoric is the medical care of an underaged female.
Its not just that it is illogical that parents who hold responsibility for childrens health would have no right to know their child is undergoing a surgical procedure. It is also medically imprudent and unwise.
Most parents would feel strongly that they should have the chance to know, weigh in and help supervise the aftercare if their child had her ears pierced or her tonsils removed. That she could have an abortion with no one in her household being aware of it seems like asking for trouble.
Granted, abortion is generally a safe medical procedure but it is a medical procedure. The thought of a teen intent on keeping its effects hidden from her parents is hardly an optimal scenario for a healthy, uneventful recovery.
And then there is the issue of young people making serious decisions under a veil of secrecy. It can hardly be the behavioral model most parents want for their children, or one adolescent experts would consider emotionally healthy or empowering.
No one is pretending that conversations about teenage pregnancy are anything other than painful, awkward and emotionally charged. Telling her parents shes pregnant is one of the most difficult conversations a young girl could ever have. But not having that conversation carries its own burden.
Some opponents have said and in some cases, rightly so that forcing a girl to speak honestly to her parents will neither turn a dysfunctional family into a healthy, communicative one nor necessarily engender support for the teen. But often pregnancy is the disastrous manifestation of a host of other problems, from low self-esteem to a lack of purpose in school. The end of the pregnancy isnt the end of those issues but a family that is willing to deal with the pregnancy may be the start of resolving them.
The vast majority of states allow teens to bypass parents by going through a judge if they fear harm from a parent, and that is a sensible and necessary provision.
But allowing most teens to make such serious decisions on their own with no counsel from adults who generally know them better and care for them more than anyone else in the world may hardly be the empowering, enlightened gift it seems to some abortion supporters.
Parents may be the last people a pregnant teen wants to talk to, but the ones she needs to lean on the most.