2006-08-18 / Columnists

From The Right

Senate Passes Bill Protecting Teens On Abortion
By Eric Ulrich

In most high schools throughout our country, young girls cannot go on a field trip, take an aspirin, or participate in sex education without their parent's permission. Nothing, however, prevents these same girls from being transported to another state to undergo a life altering and secret abortion. That may all change thanks to the Senate passage of the Child Custody Protection Act (S.403). The hotly debated bill aims at protecting the health and safety of young pregnant girls who are often coerced into a decision without their parent's knowledge or counsel.

A parent's right to be involved in their children's medical decisions is more important now than ever. Abortion practitioners in states that do not require parental notification or consent, prey on vulnerable young women who are in desperate need of sound advice. As a result, boyfriends and their parents, school guidance counselors and abortion facility staff have made it a practice of sneaking teens to a neighboring state for secret abortions.

Perhaps in no other circumstance is the need for parental guidance more important than when a teenage girl becomes pregnant. The Child Custody Protection Act makes it a crime for anyone other than a teenage girl's parents to take her out of state for an abortion.

Understandably, minors who become pregnant are emotionally and psychologically distraught. They are nervous, scared, and confused. In times like these, there is no other person in a better position to help than a loving and caring parent. Parents possess what a child lacks in maturity and experience both of which are fundamental and essential for making one of life's most difficult decisions. A good parent will help make a decision that is in the best interests of their child and not one that is simply good for business. Abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood of America, pretend to offer solace and comfort for young women when they are really trying to make a quick buck. They actively seek to undermine the role of parents by advertising in nearby states the confidentiality of their business tactics.

Opponents of the bill argue that by making parental notification requirements harder to circumvent, girls would be forced to seek unsafe, illegal abortions. They also argue that the bill would force young girls to travel across state lines alone for an abortion, instead of subjecting another person to criminal persecution.

However, there is no evidence to prove that the number of illegal abortions increases with the passage of parental involvement laws. In fact, these laws actually protect young girls from manipulative boyfriends and bad outside influences. In some cases, parents will conclude that an abortion is in their daughter's best interest and will help with the recovery and post abortion depression that follows.

In the situation of an abusive parent or in the case of incest, the bill provides for a judicial bypass in which the young girl can get a judge to sign off on the abortion without the parent's knowledge. Although some might consider this provision cumbersome, it addresses what is the exception and not the norm in what is a rare circumstance. Let's face it, most teenage pregnancies are not caused by the father.

According to NARAL/Pro-Choice America, 44 states require either parental consent or notification for a minor to have an abortion. Five states have laws that require both parents' involvement. Not surprisingly, New York State has neither of the two. The federal passage of the Child Custody Protection Act only strengthens those laws that are already on the books. It does not impose these requirements on states that do not have laws protecting pregnant teenage girls. Nor does it supersede or alter any of those laws. Such legislation has never received an up or down vote because abortion rights supporters in the Senate, mostly Democrats, have held it up.

Interestingly enough, this legislation enjoys wide bipartisan support. In the House of Representatives, where there are almost as many democrats as republicans, the bill passed by a vote of 270-157. A March Quinnipiac University poll found a 75-18 percent support for parental notification and a January 2003 CNN/Gallup poll found a 73-24 percent split in favor of parental consent. These are all clear indicators of how the vast majority of Americans feel about the issue. It doesn't matter what your personal opinions about abortion are, the heart wrenching decision to have one is not easy on a young girl, and she shouldn't have to make it alone.

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