Thursday, July 20, 2006

Parental Notification laws...a solution looking for a problem

On the surface, a parental notification law for older teens who wish to have an abortion might seem like a logical, reasonable regulation. I've heard the pro-notification folks say that nowadays the schools can't even give kids an aspirin without parental therefore shouldn't parents at least get a note in the mail if their daughter is going to end a pregnancy?

The "you can't give my kid an aspirin" arguers are in part a section of the Right To Life movement, who've submitted Ballot Initiative 51. 51 would require parental notification for abortion for women agest 15-17 in Oregon.

But this sort of notification isn't reasonable and it isn't logical. The state can't regulate good families. If parents want their teenagers to talk to them about sex, pregnancy and abortion then they must raise them in an enviornment conducive to such discussion. Forcing the issue through this kind of regulation is unnecessary and unproductive.

Teen pregnancy rates in Oregon are on a steady decline. Its not as if we've got some sort of rampant, uninformed teen abortion thing going on here.

And frankly, Oregonians should be tired of having religious zealotry shoved into their law books.

But even if you don't mind the zealotry--you should mind the goofiness behind this initiative.

Firstly, Oregon allows teenagers age 15-17 to make their own medical decisions under the law. If they didn't, this initiative wouldn't be necessary in the first place. Why is this just about abortion? Why didn't these do-gooders write an initiative that would force all medical decisions for 15-17 year olds to have parental notification? And why doesn't the law require the parents of the young men to be notified? Why is it only the person having the abortion? After all, it takes two to tangle. That fetus wasn't created through an immaculate conception.

In addition, Planned Parenthood reports that most teens already have at least one parent involved in the decision to have an abortion.

There is an alledged "safety valve" in the bill to avoid the notification process.

Young women who want to bypass the notification process are required to go through an administrative law judge via the Department of Health and Human Services. These are the types of judges who deal with license disputes and permits. There's no requirement that they be a lawyer. What's the point? To delay the procedure so maybe the woman will change her mind? What gives this person any insight into a situation like this, that a doctor and a woman couldn't determine together on their own?

This law further ironically supposes that a young woman isn't old enough to make a decision about whether or not to have an abortion, but she's old enough to give birth to a baby and raise it.

Initiative 51 is just another law seeking to exert control over people's lives. Oregonians should soundly reject it.