Analysis of the Impact of Teenage Abortions


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It is ironic that, while a teenage girl must obtain parental consent for such a minor procedure as having her ears pierced, for her to lay her life on the line (as well as that of her unborn child) and obtain an abortion, no parental notification is required. If a teenager, because of her immaturity and inexperience in decision-making, may not enroll herself in the school of her choice without her parents signature and consent, how can she be expected to independently come to a decision regarding such a serious issue as whether to obtain an abortion?

It is also strikingly ironic that the same parents who would be required by law to provide extended financial and medical assistance to the child, if any aspect of the abortion went awry and left her, say, paralytic or comatose and the same parents who could be required by law to support an infant born of their child (if the teen did not elect to procure an abortion)these same parents are not themselves protected by law to assist the child in deciding whether to even carry the infant to term. Parental consent or notification should be required for abortions for minors.

Studies have indicated that the effects of abortion upon adolescents are greater than effects upon adults (Gillham, 1997). These procedures are very risky to any female. Complications to the mother occur in one of four adult legal abortions; among adolescents the risk increases substantially to one in three. Further, the fact that 2 to 5 percent of abortions result in sterility might not disturb a woman in her 30s, but it could have devastating effects upon a young teens relationships and future plans for marriage (Gillham). So, to say that parents would shield their children from irreparable pain and hurt is not unreasonable.

Contrary to public thought, there is no such thing as a safe abortion. Approximately 258 physical complications can occur in an induced abortion, including hemorrhage; shock; brain damage; septicemia; cerebral, cardiac or pulmonary embolism (Gall, 1992). According to a study on induced adolescent abortions, published by the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, adolescents experience profoundly marked psychological effects in the abortion aftermath (SSWUC, 1995). Severe depression, crying spells, massive social withdrawal and even suicide, among other symptoms, have been cited as directly relating to teens abortion. No parents would want to see their daughter in that state of mind.

One way or another, parents are involved in financial issues that arise from adolescent abortions. For example, a minor child had an illegal abortion two day ago. Her parents were not informed. The minor child starts to have complications from the abortions, now medical attention is needed. Shes rushed to the hospital, and while there the parents are being asked what happened. They cannot answer because they dont know what happened to their child. Now, because the child is a minor the parents are stuck with the hospital bills. Therefore, the same parents that are being held responsible for the incurred financial obligations deserve to be notified when an important decision concerning their minor child, to have an abortion, is determined. One provision of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act of 1982 requires that for a minor to obtain an abortion, the informed consent of one of her parents must be obtained. It also provides for a judicial bypass option if the minor does not want to or cannot obtain a parents consent. (Tatalovich, 1997).

Parents have a moral, legal, and ethical reason to hold up to their responsibilities concerning their minor child. In the State of California a child means a person under the age of 18 years (CPC, 1995). Any person having the care or custody of a child, willfully causes or permits the child health to be placed in a endangered situation, as proscribed by Section 11165.3, California Penal Code, including the intentional failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care is neglecting the child (CPC, 1998). Since parents can be held liable for situations such as those mentioned above, parents should be consented concerning their minor children having abortions.

Teenagers, however, are subject to state laws; in 25 states, a minor cannot seek an abortion with out parental consent. While vulnerable to moral condemnation, and even harassment, adult women have the protection of liberal legislation in seeking an abortion (in Roe v. Wade, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortion is a constitutional right).

Traditionally, any medical treatment of a minor requires parental consent, and as the Planned Parenthood Fact sheet Teenagers, Abortion, and government Intrusion Laws point out, a physician treating a minor without parental consent is committing the common law tort of battery (PPFA, 1992). However, except in the area of abortion, there have never been criminal penalties for treating a minor on her own consent.

Most minor children should rely on their parents for moral support when dealing with issues of abortion. When problem of abortion issues overshadows children, the child should be able to looks for moral support from their parents. Children love to depend on their parents for just about anything.

Issues of whether a minor needs parental consent to obtain an abortion was one of the earliest issues to reach the Supreme Court after Roe. In 1976, in Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, the Court held that laws requiring parental consent were unconstitutional because they delegated to parents an arbitrary veto power over the minors decision. However, the Court hinted that states could require parental consent for minors who were too immature to make the decision.

In 1979, case of Bellotti v. Baird, Court decisions affirmed that states may generally require parental consent as long as they provide a procedure whereby minor may apply to a judge for a waiver of the requirement. The judge must waive the requirement if the minor is mature enough to decide on the abortion on her own or if an abortion would be in her best interest.

In 1990, in the case of Hodgson v. Minnesota, the Court extended the rationale of the parental consent cases to laws that require notice to both of a minors parents. The Court ruled that states may not require notification of both parents without providing an alternate way for mature minors to obtain a. The Court left open; however, whether laws that require notice to only one parent must provide an alternative.

Opponents of notification laws argue that, as a practical matter, they provide an opportunity for parents to prevent their daughters from obtaining an abortion. Also, that minors who are afraid to involve their parents will delay seeking abortion, seek them in other states, or seek illegal abortions. More than thirty states have enacted laws requiring parental consent or notification. Approximately twenty-two have laws with a waiver mechanism in effect for mature or best interests minors (Tatalovich, 1997).

Despite more restrictive legislation, teenage abortions have declined since 1980. According to the 1994 report Sex and Americas Teenagers, Fewer teens are becoming pregnant, and in recent years, fewer pregnant teens have chosen to have an abortion (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1994). In 1992 in the U.S., there were about 308,000 teen abortions, which amounts to nearly 40% of pregnancies (excluding miscarriages among teenagers. In general, 61% of teenage abortions are performed with the knowledge of at least one parent, and the informed parents mostly support their daughters decision to have an abortion (PPFA, 1992).

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