I have always been against parental notification laws because it seems like the teenagers that would have the problems with notifying their parents probably have a good reason, and a good relationship with your parents cannot be mandated by some law. It seemed to be these kids who don’t have good parental support would be the least likely to be able to navigate the legal system, and probably have the least social and familial support necessary to be a successful parent, especially a teen parent.
Also, it seemed ironic that a minor is no longer considered a minor and can make medical decisions for herself once she becomes a parent, and supposedly can be trusted to make decisions for an entire new life – her baby, if she decides to continue the pregnancy and gives birth, but she can’t be trusted to make one single medical decision for herself to not continue the pregnancy. And finally, I was worried about abusive parents or parents that would throw a minor out of the house for becoming pregnant.
At a Medical Student for Choice conference, all of the abortion providers on a panel said it was much more common to see parents come in and try to coerce their minor daughters to terminate, and the daughters to be resistant, than the other way around. Of course, they refused to do terminations under those circumstances.
Well, Harriet at Fugitivus has an awesome post up about what the reality is like for teenagers trying to get judicial bypasses. She describes the many situations she sees, from a missing in action dad, to abusive parents, to dead parents, to illegal immigrant parents, to rape victims, etc. Here is an excerpt from the section on abuse victims:
She may know she’s from an abusive family. She may not. She may simply be used to not talking about it, because it’s so shameful. She may not know there’s anything to talk about, assumes that everybody lives this way.
She will not disclose to us, and she has not disclosed to the clinic, because we are complete strangers. The clinic doesn’t have access to her medical records, which could possibly help them discover the history of abuse. The clinic is not her usual doctor, or usual clinic. This girl does not disclose because abortions are performed as something separate and segregated from other routine medical care, and at a time during which this girl may have the guts to tell somebody what is happening to her, she is surrounded by complete strangers, and called a whore and a murderer whenever she tries to access those strangers.
Please read the entire post. It is wonderfully written, as all of her posts are, and it is chilling and moving. But, most of all, it is rooted in practicality and reality. I think a lot of social conservatives want to wag their fingers and think that is all it takes to make other people live the way they think they should ideally live, based on their own particular lofty standards, and then wash their hands of the consequences of what happens when real people don’t meet those standards. I prefer to live and reality, and would like to make reality work better for the most people. Parental notification laws are the opposite of that.