Where Do You Stand on Abortion and Parental Permission?
Originally Published: January 22, 2013
Revised: January 22, 2013
Imagine you just found out that you are pregnant, and it was the last thing you wanted to have happen—at least right now. You’re scared and worried. After thinking long and hard, you decide that the only option that is right for you is abortion.
Abortion is legal in the U.S., but there is a lot of stigma attached to it. I believe it should be a woman’s decision, and only her decision, whether to have an abortion or not. But there have been a lot of laws passed recently that make accessing abortion harder. For example, those seeking abortion in Virginia must have an ultrasound beforehand. If you’re a teen who lives in a state where there are parental consent or parental notification laws, you may also need to tell your parents or guardians about the abortion or get their consent to have an abortion.
When you’re a teen, should you get to make decisions about your body without your parents’ or guardians’ involvement? Having parents involved seems like a good idea, but, then again, what if involving the parents doesn’t help? What if it makes the situation worse? Below I take a look at two of the different perspectives about how involved parents should or shouldn’t be when a teen decides to have an abortion.
I think that if the parent doesn’t want his or her child to have an abortion by law the parents should be held accountable for helping the teenage girl raise and support the child until she is able to do so on her own.
I have to admit that, although I’m pro-choice, it gives me pause when I hear about a teenage girl getting an abortion. It’s more the age that is a factor to me than the abortion itself. A teen should be allowed to get an abortion, but as a 19-year-old, I also think young teens who aren’t yet adults should have their parents’ permission to get one. Having an abortion is a medical procedure. It can be tough for adults—let alone a teen.
Many people agree that teens need their parents’ support if they’re pregnant and decide to have an abortion. Nineteen-year-old Lizzie from South Carolina says, “A teen under the age of 18 should need her parents’ permission to have an abortion. If a teen isn’t given the power to vote a politician into office, why should she have the power to determine the future of a life? A teen could also greatly benefit from her parents’ involvement during such an emotional time.”
But what if a teen’s parent won’t give her permission to have an abortion? What then? I think that if the parent doesn’t want his or her child to have an abortion by law the parents should be held accountable for helping the teenage girl raise and support the child until she is able to do so on her own. Having a child has the greatest impact on the teen’s life, so why would her parents get to force her to have a child she isn’t mentally, emotionally or financial able or ready to care for?
A Tough Decision Gets Even Harder
It’s easy to say parents should be involved; it is a medical procedure after all. But what if a girl doesn’t have a relationship with her parents, but she needs their permission to get an abortion? What if the pregnancy is a result of rape by a family member?
Miranda, 18, of Chicago, says, “We don’t know if a teen is the victim of abuse, maybe even incest, and is being abused by her parents or another family member and that’s the reason she needs the abortion.”
Although a teenage girl can always try to get a judicial bypass—an order from a judge that waives parental consent or notification requirements—it takes time and resources.
An Ideal World
I can see where requiring parental involvement on some level could be a good thing, but I can also see how it could make things worse for a teen in a terrible situation. In an ideal world, teens would be able to go to their parents or guardians when they are pregnant and get the help they need regardless of what they choose to do about the pregnancy. We won’t all agree about whether or how involved parents should be when it comes to teens and abortion, but we can agree that teens need support from adults they can trust so they can make decisions that are right for them.
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