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Parental Notification

Kevin Drum says he has mixed feelings about these requirements. I think a lot of pro-choice people do, and I think they ought to unmix them. You can see how these feelings get mixed. Children are the responsibility of their parents and parents, quite naturally, want to know what they're up to. Getting pregnant and having an abortion is kind of a big deal. And if the entire population were composed of pro-choice people who want to make sure that parents have some idea what their kids are getting themselves into, parental notification requirements would seem to me to be a fairly reasonable kind of rule, on a par with R-ratings for movies and the whole swathe of other paternalistic rules we apply to minor children.

But the real locus for action with these laws isn't with families like that. It relates to young women who've gotten pregnant and who have socially conservative parents. The main effect of the laws is to intimidate such women out of getting abortions for fear of what their parents (most likely fathers) will do to them if they're told. Now if you believe abortion is murder, this is a great deal. From within the relevant class of people, a certain number are successfully intimidated out of having abortions. A sub-set of these women probably wind up being subjected to physical abuse by their parents, but a few beatings is a small price to pay for cutting down on the number of baby killers. What's more, from the crass political perspective, it makes liberals look unreasonable and extreme to propose these laws. And, indeed, it does have that effect. If any Democrat wants to tell me he needs to support parental notification laws to stay electorally viable, I'll probably believe him. Still, this stuff sucks. The country does not need more teen mothers, does not need more child abuse, and doesn't need bus drivers getting thrown in jail for letting pregnant women get on board. To be perfectly frank about it, women under 18 are the last group of people we should be subjecting to intense pressure to carry their pregnancies to term. Arguments that the aggregate impact of these laws will be less teen sex rather than more teen mothers are purely fatuous.

April 28, 2005 | Permalink

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» Matthew Yglesias on Parental Notification from Daly Thoughts
Link: Kevin Drum says he has mixed feelings about these requirements. I think a lot of pro-choice people do, and I think they ought to unmix them. You can see how these feelings get mixed. Children are the responsibility of their parents and parents... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 28, 2005 3:06:54 PM

» The Rapists and Sexual Predators Right to Sue Act from The Debate Link
...and other creations of the GOP (I'll explain momentarily). The House of Representatives passed a bill today which would make it a crime for any person to transport a minor across state lines for the purpose of evading parental notification laws... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 28, 2005 4:02:54 PM

» Parental Notification On the Ground from Lawyers, Guns and Money
Young women in stable families and who have good relationships with their parents will not require legal coercion to inform them. For the most part, these laws are only relevant to young women in the worst family situations; there is no legitimate pu... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 28, 2005 7:18:18 PM

» Regulating Abortion from Terminus
Recently on Staff of Ra, that most excellent blog featuring MosBen, I've gotten into an argument about abortion. Oddly, I found myself on the conservative side of this particular argument. MosBen's friend ... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 28, 2005 8:09:00 PM

» Abortion coming to another state near you. from Craig's Thoughts, Theories, and Tantrums
This is really troubling. From the Times: "The House passed a bill on Wednesday making it a federal crime for any adult to transport an under-age girl across state lines to have an abortion without the consent of her parents.... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 29, 2005 11:53:49 AM

» Abortion coming to another state near you. from Craig's Thoughts, Theories, and Tantrums
This is really troubling. From the Times: "The House passed a bill on Wednesday making it a federal crime for any adult to transport an under-age girl across state lines to have an abortion without the consent of her parents.... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 29, 2005 11:56:44 AM

Comments

Whatever your view of abortion, what is the possible justification for requiring parental consent for an appendectomy but not an abortion?

Posted by: Abadaba | Apr 28, 2005 2:36:53 PM

I don’t care what the fucking Jesus freaks think. It would be better for society to strongly encourage teenagers to get rid of their “babies”. They are likely eliminating a future criminals or someone who will place a burden on our welfare system.

Posted by: Robert Brown | Apr 28, 2005 2:38:32 PM

need bus drivers getting thrown in jail for letting pregnant women get on board

Wow, if this isn't the dumbest, most farfetched, asinine argument of all time, I don't know what else is. Do you left-wingers even understand the word "intent"? Sheesh.

Posted by: Al | Apr 28, 2005 2:45:51 PM

I have improper liberal views on Roe vs. Wade and on federalism, although proper liberal views on the desirability of the legality of abortion.

Now that that's out of the way: I totally fuckin' agree with you, man. Seriously, minors are the last people who need to be prevented from having abortions. Unfortunately, someone who is pregnant is old enough to know how to do it, but may not be old enough to handle a child. Certainly someone at such an age could hang for murder if they hadn't barred that. But then I don't believe in absolute parental domination of medical decisions for a child who has hit puberty, either in the mandating of medical treatment or the prevention of such treatment. And yes, I know what a can of worms that is...it's a mixed-up mess NOW.

If you are arguing for absolute stance on being pro-choice, then children are the last people to restrict, since at least adult women are ostensibly competent enough to not get prego in the first place, whereas 13-year-olds are a bundle of hormones.

ash
['No good solutions there.']

Posted by: ash | Apr 28, 2005 2:47:30 PM

Abadaba,

B/c somebody's parents won't beat them or kick them out of the house for having an appendectomy.

Posted by: Chris in TX | Apr 28, 2005 2:47:38 PM

Al -- the republicans voted down an amendment proposed by Democrats to exempt bus drivers, cabbies etc. from the culpability under the law. So clearly their intent does include such.

Posted by: Jeremy Osner | Apr 28, 2005 2:51:05 PM

Chris,that argument doesn't work. The Court has said that state parental notice statutes must have judicial overrides for those circumstances. So we are talking EXCLUSIVELY about cases where that won't happen.

Posted by: Abadaba | Apr 28, 2005 2:51:43 PM

To me, one of the big ironies about this thing is that people are most comfortable with what are, in effect, formal deterrents to folks with the most at stake--namely, young women. I'd be much more sympathetic to a piece of law that made older, more financially stable/independent, women "really go and think-about/discuss it first," than with law presuming all kinds of unrealistic shit about parental judgment, etc.

Posted by: spacetoast | Apr 28, 2005 2:54:32 PM

Jeremy - you misunderstand. The law would only make illegal transporting minors over state lines if the person transporting them has the INTENT that the minor have an abortion without parental consent. Explain to me how a bus driver has that intent.

This is the reddest herring ever.

Posted by: Al | Apr 28, 2005 2:55:53 PM

Whatever your view of abortion, what is the possible justification for requiring parental consent for an appendectomy but not an abortion?

Fathers can't cause their daughther's appendix to busrt. Besides, if you don't recognize the profound difference in a young girl's mind between getting pregnant under Roy Moore's roof, and requiring an appendectomy, I would politely suggest you reexamine the issue with some more thought.

Posted by: Espn | Apr 28, 2005 2:56:16 PM

The kind of people who beat their daughters tend also to be the types of people who quietly and unobtrusively shuttle them down to the clinic in the event of a pregnancy. Matt, I fail to see the leap from "Christian and being opposed to abortion" to "terrorizing their daughters."

Posted by: Andrew Reeves | Apr 28, 2005 2:58:12 PM

Another part of the bill that isn't mentioned in some of the news accounts is that it imposes a 24-hour waiting period on minors who cross state lines for an abortion, even in some situations where they have parental consent. That's a huge burden. If you're traveling to another state, you are going to have to be able to afford to pay for a motel or somewhere else to spend the night. Heck - many hotels won't even rent to people under 21. Also, that means missing more school (at least one day for a Friday-Saturday arrangement or 2 days during the week) on top of the parent/guardian missing 1 or 2 days of work. That adds up very quickly.

Posted by: Rebecca | Apr 28, 2005 3:02:35 PM

You left out the grim reality that some of those teens get impregnated by their fathers or stepfathers. This issue alone makes parental notification a disaster.

Posted by: Rebecca Allen, PhD | Apr 28, 2005 3:06:21 PM

Parents should be notified and asked for consent. Social serivces should also be notified and should have a right and responsibility to check things out and overrule if necessary.

Posted by: abb1 | Apr 28, 2005 3:07:12 PM

And why should a father's parental rights trump his daughter's parental rights anyway?

Posted by: phil | Apr 28, 2005 3:11:39 PM

Al-
Do you have a link to the statute with the intent langauge? The impression I got was that a negligent mens rea would be enough, but I haven't seen the primary source and therefore could be wrong.

Posted by: washerdreyer | Apr 28, 2005 3:11:51 PM

"Parents should be notified and asked for consent. Social serivces should also be notified and should have a right and responsibility to check things out and overrule if necessary."

Nonsense. What if the parents are social conservatives or some kind of religious nuts who believe that abortion is murder? Better for social services to encourage the girl to do what is right for society.

Posted by: Robert Brown | Apr 28, 2005 3:16:17 PM

"`(a) Offense-

`(1) GENERALLY- Except as provided in subsection (b), whoever knowingly transports a minor across a State line, with the intent that such minor obtain an abortion, and thereby in fact abridges the right of a parent under a law requiring parental involvement in a minor's abortion decision, in force in the State where the minor resides, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

`(2) DEFINITION- For the purposes of this subsection, an abridgement of the right of a parent occurs if an abortion is performed or induced on the minor, in a State other than the State where the minor resides, without the parental consent or notification, or the judicial authorization, that would have been required by that law had the abortion been performed in the State where the minor resides."

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/T?&report=hr051&dbname=cp109&

Posted by: Al | Apr 28, 2005 3:17:06 PM

The difference between an appendectomy and an abortion? To my knowledge no state requires parental notification for an appendectomy. The hospital requires it, insurance may require it, but I am not at all sure that a statute requires it.

Posted by: Kristen | Apr 28, 2005 3:21:53 PM

What a fucking brilliant idea by Republicans. Make life EVEN HARDER for a young, pregnant woman. Fucking brilliant, you heartless pieces of shit. The women that don't want to tell Dad have a good reason (like, doing the right thing and having an abortion will get them kicked out of the house, or Dad made the damn baby).

Hint: if you have no idea your daughter is having sex (and getting pregnant from it!), you've already demonstrated a problem in your parental skills, and you're not going to get any better by being informed that your daughter is thinking of an abortion.

The law should be amended to notify the parents of the FATHER of the child, as well, while we're at it. Let's not just make the little sluts fess up, the lecherous young men need to be held up to scrutiny, too.

Posted by: tango | Apr 28, 2005 3:30:12 PM

Never mind. There are indeed such statutes. My apologies.

Posted by: Kristen | Apr 28, 2005 3:39:01 PM

Though I disagree with the law, and would like it to be up to the states to deal with law breakers, it seems to me that

Looking at the law: I wonder if Cab and Bus Drivers are not EFFECTIVELY protected by the subp=-phrase:

"whoever knowingly ... with the intent that such minor obtain an abortion"

My guess is that a Cab or Bus driver will not know that the minor is intending to get an abortion, so may not be a criminal.

Posted by: Mike Liveright | Apr 28, 2005 3:43:16 PM

This is a tough issue, but IMHO it's tough less because of abortion politics specifically than because we don't have a coherent philosophy of childhood and life stages that matches with contemporary realities or modern science. Most of our ideas and laws about childhood and children are a mishmash of old-fashioned common law that held children as chattel, some Romantic sentiments about the innocence of childhood, some economic thinking about children as future adults, a bit of human rights language, a bit of old-time Progressive paternalism, and a bit of developmental psychology thrown in, among other things. Each of these ideas creates problems for thinking about children in today's world.

(I realize that pregnant teenagers are women, not children, but they're also minors, which makes them legally the same as children (with some exceptions) This is one example of where our thinking about childhood, adolescense, adulthood breaks down. Can we say when they become women: when they got pregnant, when they had sex, when they menstruated? And if they are women, why are they minors?)

Posted by: flip | Apr 28, 2005 3:44:08 PM

Whatever your view of abortion, what is the possible justification for requiring parental consent for an appendectomy but not an abortion?

Sigh... I think this is my third foray into the blogosperic fray on this today, but the fact is that parental consent for medical procedures boils down to two issues-- one is the ability of a minor to consent (no one would claim that a four-year-old with leukemia could give informed consent to chemo, although a fourteen-year-old is a different story and there's little reason to believe that parents can force treatment in that case without a court order), and the other is that more often than not, parental consent is a shield from liability imposed by providers, whether school nurses or plastic surgeons. It does not mean that parents really have an immutable right to force medical treatment upon, or deny it to, their children. Obviously there's some room for debate there, but there is actually less room on the abortion issue, because pregnant minors make their own medical decisions for themselves, and for their progeny after a live birth. If anyone can find any valid reason to legislate that potential grandparents can block routine ultrasounds or epidurals in labor as some sort of parental privilege, I'd love to see it.

Posted by: latts | Apr 28, 2005 3:50:57 PM

Matt said: From within the relevant class of people, a certain number are successfully intimidated out of having abortions. A sub-set of these women probably wind up being subjected to physical abuse by their parents,

Any evidence to back this up?

Posted by: dave | Apr 28, 2005 3:51:13 PM

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