ACLU-American Civil Liberties

A third argument they make is one of dangerous delays caused by parental consent laws being enforced. Even without parental involvement, most teenagers who are desperate to terminate a pregnancy will do so, whether they travel out of state, or obtain a judicial bypass. Unfortunately, delays may result which can greatly increase both physical and emotional risks. According to their position, "the manner in which each state enforces its judicial bypass laws is erratic. " The majority of abortions take place in the first trimester (1-3 months). The earlier the procedure is done, the safer it is.

Prolonging the wait time can lead to some of the complications mentioned earlier, in the opposing view. They noted that "court proceedings in Minnesota delayed abortions by more than one week, and sometimes up to three weeks. " (ACLU, 1986) Planned Parenthood concludes that the passage of this House Bill would make it a federal crime to transport a teen girl across state lines for the express purpose of obtaining an abortion. To that end, anyone, other than the parent found in violation (whether this be another relative, a clergy member, or medical professional, etc.

) would be subject to criminal penalties. Because over 86% of U. S. counties lack an abortion provider, many minors, in order to access these services, find it necessary to cross state lines. Passage of this Bill may result in penalties, through fines, imprisonment or civil suits, of any adult other than the parent for assisting her in seeking the abortion. Thus, they presume if this Bill were passed into law, it would "deter responsible, caring adults from assisting a minor out of fear of prosecution. " (Planned Parenthood Fact Sheet) My Point of View

Overall, I tend to agree with the points presented by Ms. Stanton. However, I do not believe a teenager should be required to get the permission of her parent/s in order to obtain an abortion. In saying this, I strongly support the notion of parental notification, primarily due to a few peripheral but correlated factors implicated in the majority of teenage pregnancies, namely that of statutory rape and general immaturity in decision-making skills which often result in conflicted choices. As stated in the CCPA document, H. R. 3682 points out that it has "two primary purposes.

The first is to protect the rights of parents to be involved in the medical decisions of their minor daughters. The second is to protect the health and safety of children by preventing valid and constitutional state parental involvement laws from being circumvented. " (Report 105-605, page 6, 1998) As a parent, and former, single welfare mom, I agree with this general premise. In my quest of relevant materials for this topic, I was able to locate the official Report Document together with Dissenting Views of the Child Custody Protection Act from June 25, 1998.

Interestingly enough, I found many earlier dates from which Ms. Stanton Collett's testimony were also given in support of this Bill. The date in our textbook, September 6, 2001 seems to be the most recent. Needless to say, I have found it somewhat of a challenge to keep track of the many versions and subsequent quotes and references attributed to the contents of this Bill. Also, while researching material for this paper, I came across an interesting book: one that intimately profiles the experiences of the girls themselves who have become pregnant.

Each story is told in the first-person, much like a diary or journal entry. In Paula McGuire's book "It Won't Happen to Me-Teenagers Talk About Pregnancy" an overwhelming theme emerges that lends support to my position: that of a girl's perception her parent/s will object to the pregnancy and one of the harsh realities carrying the pregnancy to term present. Upon discovering the possibility of becoming a grandparent, many parents seem to approach a daughter's pregnancy as a time for renewal, often using it as an excuse to make amends.

This excerpt comes from a seventeen year old girl named Angela, who was eight months pregnant when her story unfolded. It is especially poignant as she relates the prenatal relationship with her mother which she describes as having been "not very good at all. " Both Angela and the eighteen year old father, Tony, "decided to go ahead and get married. " Angela reflects, rather bitter sweetly, on her situation: "After we got married and everything was all right, then my relationship with my mother became really close.

Maybe I had gotten pregnant because I wanted revenge or because I was too stupid. I really don't know. I haven't found that out yet, but I've been thinking about it a lot. I don't regret getting pregnant, but if I could do my life over again, I would have done it differently. I know that much. " Sadly, many of the stories relate the heartbreaking conclusion that the "fathers" don't want to be involved in their children's lives. The majority of the girls end up initially living with family, holding out to an idealistic dream that eventually succumbs to the hard truths of being alone.

One girl, "Lillian" starts her story with the headline "Taking the Rap Alone. " She is a hardened and streetwise counselor for pregnant teens at an inner-city high school that provides a program for girls who desire to continue their education throughout their pregnancies. Her story is fraught with the inadequacies of a taxed and ineffective welfare system; one where "girls never disclose the names of their babies' fathers, since welfare would then get after the boy or his family to pay child support. Welfare often threatens the girls and delays payments….

so we never know who the fathers are… Most of the adolescents in this community don't raise their babies; the grandmother does it, carrying on a system that is generations old already. However, it is true that the rate of abuse and neglect of babies by teenage mothers is high here. " (McGuire, page 69-70) It is no coincidence, included in the foreword to this book, Dr. George M. Ryan, a noted past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also refers to teenage pregnancy as a "tragedy. " (McGuire, foreword).

Evident of his expertise in this matter, have it noted he is a former member of the National Medical Committee of Planned Parenthood Federation and consultant to the U. S. Government with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, should anyone suggest an anti-abortion bias. Another voice of reason in the issue of older men impregnating young girls, DePaul University associate law professor Michelle Oberman observes, statutory rape laws are probably necessary because "minor girls are… uniquely vulnerable to coercion and exploitation in their sexual decision making.

(Oberman, 1994) At the same time, she notes, "drawing a connection between enforcing these laws and lowering adolescent pregnancy rates flies in the face of everything we know about why girls get pregnant and why they choose to continue their pregnancies. The problem is much more complicated than simply older men preying on younger women" (DePaul University College of Law, personal communication, Sept. 16, 1996). As Oberman and others have observed, statutory rape laws are only one dynamic in adolescent pregnancies. They can often answer the "how?

" of this dilemma, but not the more critical "why? " Other root causes seem valid but more elusive. These are the intangible principles such as low self-esteem and respect that social scientists, welfare workers, politicians, and parents need to answer, in order for prevention to be possible. When Pete Wilson was Governor of California, he addressed this astounding problem, asserting "We've got to enforce statutory rape laws. " In 1995, he announced a plan allocating $2. 4 million of the state's adolescent pregnancy prevention funds to support prosecution of statutory rape cases.

My own personal experience with my daughter's statutory rape conviction of her (then) boyfriend only reinforces my belief that parents need to be informed of a daughter's pregnancy. Throughout our ordeal, the local police and resultant bureaucracy (including the District Attorney's office), were so overwhelmed with more violent and blatant criminals, that pressing for the initial charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor where met with obstinate hesitation. An actual conviction only resulted when we forced the issue and repeatedly contacted the District Attorney's office.

Just convincing a police officer I was adamant about pressing charges was an exercise in maternal resolve. In Conclusion Secret abortions can have dire and even deadly consequences. Included in the Report for the Child Custody Protection Act are the accounts of two mothers' whose own daughters were taken out of state for abortions, without their knowledge. One abortion was reportedly to cover up the alcohol-laden rape of a 12-year-old that was taken to the abortion by the rapist's mother. Luckily, this young girl's mother was a nurse and was able to intervene before more serious complications arose.

Another covert abortion on a 13-year-old resulted not only in depression and further hospitalization but also pelvic inflammatory disease which resulted in an accumulated $27,000 in medical costs-all because of one secret abortion. 1 (CCPA Report, 105-605, page 5, 1998) There are countless bills and similarly worded legislation to that of the Child Custody Protection Act currently awaiting passage in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. The Pro-Choice organization, Center for Reproductive Rights, monitors, tracks and lobbies for legislation that threatens the tenets of a woman's right to choose.

Listed on their web site (www. crlp. org/st_leg_whatsnew. html) is a host of bills introduced and related subject matter. Similarly, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) monitors cases and often exploits them to further their cause. Such a instance involved that of a young girl, "Becky Bell" who died from a botched abortion. Her story has been used in advertising materials for the ACLU to support "anti-choice laws". Their tone is somewhat accusatory and hyperbolic, even going so far as to state that "Parental involvement laws don't help families.

They harm young women. " in their ad copy. Conversely, the opposing side has just as many watch-dog groups and non-profits, many of them religious in nature. One such organization is that founded by Dr. James Dobson, Ph. D. , a staunch pro-family advocate who extols the virtues of a God-centered family. His books on childcare and family issues have sold millions worldwide. But most notably is the Focus on the Family a nonprofit organization that produces his internationally syndicated radio programs heard by over 200 million people daily.


ACLU-American Civil Liberties Union Foundation Reproductive Freedom Project (1986). Parental Consent Laws: The Catastrophic Impact on Teenagers' Right to Abortion. New York: ACLU American Academy of Pediatric Committee on Adolescence-Adolescent Pregnancy- Current Trends and Issues: 1998, 103 PEDIATRIC 516, 519, (1999) Child Custody Protection Act (1999) H. R. 1218, 106th Congress, 1st Session; S. 661, 106th Congress, 1st Session Haas-Wilson, D. (1999). The Impact of State Abortion Restrictions on Minors' Demand for Abortions, The Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 31, No. 1, p. 140.