Thursday, July 27, 2006

Parental Notification

So the parental notification measure has made the ballot. I am interested in what the arguments against it will be, because in my mind, it is a very hard thing to argue against.

I'm a parent of a 17 year old daughter. Most voters are parents. The notion that they should be notified if their daughter wants an abortion strikes the vast majority of people as pretty unremarkable, no matter what their ideology.

So I was curious what the arguments will be. We are now getting a good preview, from the Oregonian and from the Blue Oregon blog.

In today's Oregonian, Jack Ohman's cartoon (which isn't yet on the website) essentially makes the argument that requiring parents to be notified will result in pregnant teen girls dying from back-alley abortions. I think this is the weakest of the weak arguments against this.

On Blue Oregon, Anne Martens (who is a staffer for Secretary of State Bill Bradbury) makes the ridculous argument that conservatives are hypocritical because requiring parental notification is an example of nanny-state government.

Let me get this straight, Anne. My daughter goes to her school based health clinic because she got pregnant, and her boyfriend is pressuring her to get an abortion. She knows that I would be very upset if she tells me what is going on. The counselors at the clinic - a government agency - help her get an abortion without my knowledge.

And if I say that the law should require me to be notified, I'm looking for a nanny state?

Unreal. That, folks, is the quality of the arguments you are likely to see on this issue. Anne Martens has never really dazzled anybody with her brilliance, of course (except perhaps Blue Oregon founder Kari Chisholm, who actually did comment that her argument was "brilliant.")

Other arguments seen on Blue Oregon:
  • The age of medical consent is 15, so there is no reason to make it 18 in the case of abortion. The problem with this argument is that this measure is parental notification, not parental consent.
  • The incest question: what if a girl is raped by her step-father? First, this is a red herring. What percent of teen pregnancies are a result of incest? Second, there is is a judicial override that is part of this measure. The comments on Blue Oregon dismiss the judicial override, asking what teenager will know enough to go through all that intimidating process? Well, excuse me, but I am sure that Planned Parenthood will be ready and willing to help shepherd any teen through the process.
  • One commenter on Blue Oregon actually said they had it all wrong - the argument should be that promoting abortion among teens is a great way to save welfare state dollars and make sure there aren't a lot of single parent families! The eugenics argument, which the left has danced with over and over again during the last century.

None of the arguments I have heard or seen seem at all compelling compared to the very visceral, common sense take that most voters will have: should I know if my daughter is seeking an abortion?



gus miller said...

I think the strongest argument in favor of parental notification (pn) is that parents are responsible for their childrens' medical care and expenses. If there are complications from an abortion procedure, the parents are going to get the bills.

The strongest argument against pn is that the currently small percentage of teens who self-deliver and abandon babies will probably increase.

My observation is that our nation is so polarized for or against abortion that a national consensus is unattainable on informing the small number of teens needing same about ways to seek emancipated minor status, conditions calling for removal of parental rights, setting up temporary guardianships if called for etc..

For all of us a willingness to communicate nonjudgmentally on the subject of abortion is also recommended bearing in mind that tolerance of some things is not always evidence of approval.

Anonymous said...

Rob, I completely agree with you about this being a no-brainer, difficult to legitimately oppose.

Gus, your point, focusing on the financial responsibility, does side-step the emotional and moral aspects of this debate, which could be very helpful.

As a former secondary teacher who couldn't even give asprin to students without parental consent, the crazy reality that young girls, unable to make mature decisions or truly comprehend the potential implications of abortion--a major medical procedure and SO MUCH MORE, regardless of whether one thinks its right or wrong--just baffles me.

I will vote YES on PN.

Anonymous said...

Democrats show their anti-family leanings on this issue. If it is a question of govt vs. parent, for the D's, the parent is presumptively to take the back seat and assumed to be a rapist or molester.

That is why parental notification is such a good issue to show the regular voting public the true colors of the abortion activists.