Protecting the Rights of Parents and Young Women - in defense of The Child Custody Protection Act

by Carolyn Gargaro
July 12, 1998
Published in the South Jersey Courier Post

In her column in the Boston Globe on 7/09/98, (and in the South Jersey Courier Post 7/10/98) Carrying a bad abortion law across state lines, Ellen Goodman claims that she fails to see the logic behind the statement, "If a teenager can't get her ears pierced without parental consent, why should she be able to get an abortion?"

If Ms. Goodman cannot see the logic in that statement, perhaps she should be taking elementary logic classes rather than writing editorials.

Abortion is considered a medical procedure. By law, minors are not allowed to undergo medical procedures without parental consent. And yes - ear piercing is also considered a medical procedure. The medical community considers parental consent so important that, except for emergency, life-saving procedures, they refuse treatment of a minor until a parent or guardian can be notified. Yet Ms. Goodman believes she knows more than the medical community, and asserts that minors should be able to have an abortion without parental approval or notification.

The logic behind the statement is simple - why are minors considered too immature to get their ears pierced without parental consent, but mature enough to handle the decision of abortion all alone? Do these girls magically become mature adults when it comes to the decision to abort, but then lose that maturity when it comes to other decisions?

On one hand, abortion supporters cry that abortion is a "medical procedure" and as such, it should be legal. Then, on the other hand, they want to change the rules for this "medical procedure" and allow minors to obtain it without parental consent, making abortion a sacred right rather than a "medical procedure." Despite her implications, Ms. Goodman is in the minority in her opinion on parental consent - multiple surveys have shown that over 70% of people polled support parental notification laws. (Times Mirror poll, 5/8/92, Quinnipiac College of Hamden Poll, 3/5/98)

Perhaps some abortion supporters see parental involvement in a minor's abortion decision unfavorably because such laws reduces teen abortions as well as teen pregnancies. If abortion advocates support reducing teen pregnancies, as they often claim, then why are they so harsh on a law which has been proven to reduce teen pregnancies? Perhaps it is because, according to Planned Parenthood's own statistics, mandatory parental involvement provisions result in a 24 percent to 85 percent reduction in teen caseloads at family planning clinics. (Issues in Brief 4:3, March 1994, Alan Guttmacher Institute) This reduction in caseload creates a reduction is cash flow for Planned Parenthood - is it any wonder that they dislike parental consent and notification laws?

In addition, judging by Ms. Goodman's statements regarding The Child Custody Protection Act (S. 1645, HR 3682), she apparently does not understand the bill, or she does not care about the welfare of young, pregnant girls. In brief, this bill would make it a federal offense to transport a minor across a state line for an abortion if this action circumvents a state law requiring parental involvement in that minor's abortion (or judicial waiver of such a requirement). Such a bill is necessary because it is common for adults to take teenagers across state lines, without telling the minor's parents, to help them obtain an abortion. If the adult was taking the minor across state lines for any other reason without the parents' consent, people would be up in arms, but if the adult is taking the minor to obtain a secret abortion, this type of action is suddenly acceptable.

The Child Custody Protection Act is more of a support of parental rights rather than "anti-abortion legislation" as Ms. Goodman tries to imply. This act does not supersede, override, or any way interfere with existing state laws regarding minors' abortions, and it does not impose parental notice or consent requirements on any state. Nevertheless, Ms. Goodman and other abortion rights supporters want "exceptions" to be added to allow anyone to transport minors over state lines for an abortion, without the authorizations required by state law. Why do parents suddenly lose their rights when it comes to their own child obtaining an abortion?

In addition, statistics show that the majority of teenage girls are impregnated by adult males...and Ms. Goodman wants these adult males, or anyone else, to be able to take the girl across state lines to obtain an abortion without the parent's knowledge? Is Ms. Goodman so naive that she doesn't believe that many of these adult men will pressure the young girls to abort? Does she not think that these older males, many who are vulnerable to statutory rape charges, would want the girl to obtain an abortion without her parent's knowledge so he can avoid such charges? Is Ms. Goodman not aware of the widely publicized 1995 case where a 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl was impregnated by an 18-year-old man, whose mother took the girl to New York for an abortion? Pennsylvania has parental consent laws, and New York does not, so the man's mother took the 12-year-old out of the state so she could get a secret abortion - and so that her son would not be brought up on statutory rape charges! Of course, this woman was defended by attorneys for the Center of Reproductive Law and Policy, under the claim that such actions are protected under Roe V. Wade. Such actions should NOT be protected - Congress should not override state laws by empowering strangers or friends who do not hold parental authority under the pertinent state laws.

Allowing such people to have more rights than the parents clearly opens the doors for teenage girls to be exploited for the convenience of men who don't want to take the responsibility of a child - or who don't want to be brought up on statutory rape charges.

Speaking of logic, let's look at the following logic: A school nurse cannot give out an Asprin without parental consent, but this same nurse can take that same minor out of the state to obtain an abortion. Again, this shows inconsistency in the pro-choice rationale - on one hand, they claim that abortion is a very emotional and difficult decision (which I, and other pro-lifer supporters, will agree with) yet on the other hand, they will allow a person to have authority over such a decision when that same person isn't considered qualified enough to give the same minor an Asprin.

Without parental notification laws, and legislation such as The Child Custody Protection Act, parents may not know of their child's emotional or physical pain, and they won't know to look for signs in the event that there are complications from the abortion. Parents need to be aware that their teenage daughter may be subjected to surgery and/or the administration of drugs that could be dangerous in light of medical history that the girl may not even know of herself. And, ironically, if the minor has complications from the abortion and is admitted to the hospital, the hospital must obtain parental consent to perform the medical procedure due to the abortion the minor obtained without parental permission.

What opponents of such legislation are telling young girls is that they can't trust their parent, but they CAN trust family planning clinics, abortion providers, and strangers. Who do you think cares more about these girls - their parents, or the abortion clinics that take their money and never sees them again, or an older male who wants to avoid statutory rape charges? Who will be there for the girls if later on, they have emotional or physical problems due to the abortion - the parents or the abortion providers, or the man who wanted to hide the fact that he impregnated a young girl? What does this tell young girls - that they can trust everyone EXCEPT their own parents?

The Child Custody Protection Act, takes a stand against the incorrect and absurd notion that the U.S. Constitution gives strangers a "right" to take a minor across state lines for a secret abortion, even when a state law specifically requires involvement of a parent or judge in the girl's abortion decision.

It amazes me that people like Ms. Goodman are willing to sacrifice the safety of teenage girls in order to keep their precious, unrestricted abortion laws. If Ms. Goodman was truly pro-woman, she would support the protection of teenage girls, as well as the mother who is denied her parental rights, and not brush that protection aside in favor of a law which furthers the exploitation of young women.

This article is copyright © 1998 Carolyn C. Gargaro. All rights reserved. It may not be reproduced with out specific consent of the author.

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