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Abortion Notification/parental Consent

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Since it came up in another topic, let's devote this one solely to discussion of abortion notification and parental consent laws.

Here's a couple articles I found today to spur the issue:

chicago sun times online wrote:
by abdon m. Pallasch legal affairs reporter
illinois' courts are not ready to handle pregnant teens arriving to seek permission to get abortions, a federal judge ruled tuesday.
So the state's parental notification law, which has been on ice for 12 years, stays that way.

But when the state's courts have worked out the procedures so girls arriving there are directed to the proper courtroom and the forms are all ready, attorney general lisa madigan can return to court seeking to finally get the long-delayed 1995 law enacted, judge david coar ruled.

Madigan's attorneys said they would return, though they gave no timetable.

New bill introduced
the american civil liberties union and abortion-rights activists praised coar's ruling, though they recognize it may not last forever. "we applaud the judge for looking carefully at this and we are hopeful we will never see parental notice in illinois," said aclu attorney lorie chaiten. "we think the ruling is one that benefits the young women of illinois."
state rep. John fritchey (d-chicago) has introduced a bill that would broaden the list of adults a pregnant teen could have notified, including a clergy member.

Dupage county state's attorney joe birkett said the law as it stands already allows for other adults to be notified and has been found constitutional in 38 states, including all of illinois' surrounding states.
new york times online wrote:
for all the passions they generate, laws that require minors to notify their parents or get permission to have an abortion do not appear to have produced the sharp drop in teenage abortion rates that some advocates hoped for, an analysis by the new york times shows.

The analysis, which looked at six states that introduced parental involvement laws in the last decade and is believed to be the first study to include data from years after 1999, found instead a scattering of divergent trends.

For instance, in tennessee, the abortion rate went down when a federal court suspended a parental consent requirement, then rose when the law went back into effect. In texas, the rate fell after a notification law went into effect, but not as fast as it did in the years before the law. In virginia, the rate barely moved when the state introduced a notification law in 1998, but fell after the requirement was changed to parental consent in 2003.

Since the united states supreme court recognized states' rights to restrict abortion in 1992, parental involvement legislation has been a cornerstone in the effort to reduce abortions. Such laws have been a focus of divisive election campaigns, long court battles and grass-roots activism, and are now in place in 34 states. Most americans say they favor them.

"it's one of the few areas that the u.S. Supreme court has allowed states to legislate, so it's become a key for lowering the abortion rate," said mary spaulding balch, director of state legislation for the national right to life committee. Ms. Balch said she believed that consent laws were effective.

Yet the times analysis of the states that enacted laws from 1995 to 2004 — most of which had low abortion rates to begin with — found no evidence that the laws had a significant impact on the number of minors who got pregnant, or, once pregnant, the number who had abortions.

A separate analysis considered whether the existence or absence of a law could be used to predict whether abortions went up or down. It could not. The six states studied are in the south and west: arizona, idaho, south dakota, tennessee, texas and virginia. (a seventh state, oklahoma, also passed a parental notification law in this period, but did not gather abortion data before 2000.)

supporters of the laws say they promote better decision-making and reduce teenage abortions; opponents say they chip away at abortion rights and endanger young lives by exposing them to potentially violent reaction from some parents.

But some workers and doctors at abortion clinics said that the laws had little connection with the real lives of most teenagers, and that they more often saw parents pressing their daughters to have abortions than trying to stop them. And many teenagers say they never considered hiding their pregnancies or abortion plans from their mothers.

"i would have told my mother anyway," said a 16-year-old named nicole, who waited recently at a clinic in allentown, pa., a state that requires minors to get the permission of just one parent. Nicole's mother and father are divorced, and it was her mother she went to for permission to have an abortion.

"she was the first person I called," nicole said. "she's like a best friend to me."

abortion rates have been dropping nationwide since the mid-1980's, most precipitously for teenagers. But in three states — arizona, idaho and tennessee — the percentage of pregnant minors who had abortions rose slightly after the consent laws went into effect.

When the times study compared the first full year after a state began enforcing a parental law with the last full year before the law, it found that abortions among minors dropped an average of 9 percent. But in the same period, the rates for pregnant 18- and 19-year-olds, who were not affected by the law, dropped by 5 percent, suggesting that most of the drop among minors was associated with other factors that affected minors and adults alike.

"there are ongoing trends that are pushing both birth rates and abortion rates down significantly, and those larger trends are more important than the effect of these laws," said ted joyce, an economist at baruch college in new york who has studied parental involvement laws. He found they had limited effects on small subgroups of minors but little impact over all.

Of the remaining decline in teenage abortion rates in the times study, Dr. Joyce said that some of it might be attributed to minors going out of state for abortions. The health departments in these states do not track data on such abortions, but in three previous studies of states where such data were available, completed before 1991, two found that any drop in minors' abortions was matched by an increase in minors getting abortions out of state.

Previous research on the effects of parental notification laws has been slender and has produced contradictory conclusions. All were hampered by inconsistencies in the ways states gather and report data.
The times analysis was limited by its focus on just six states, but it avoided the possible distortions of including states that gather data in inconsistent ways.

Phillip b. Levine, an economics professor at wellesley college, examined nationwide survey results from 1985 to 1996, a time when many parental involvement laws were put in place, and found that the laws were associated with about one-eighth of the total drop in minors' abortions in those states. Much of the drop was associated with other factors, which might include the economy, availability of abortion, changes in mores and other trends. "it's not surprising it's not popping out," Dr. Levine said of the small drop found in the times analysis. "there is nothing overwhelmingly staggering" in the change associated with the laws.

Supporters of parental involvement laws say they allow parents to help their children make an important health care decision, as parents would on any other surgical procedure.

For cathi harrod, interim president of the center for arizona policy, who lobbied for 15 years for her state's parental consent law, getting minors to involve their parents in their medical decisions was reason enough for the laws, whatever the impact on overall abortion rates. Arizona's law went into effect in 2003.

Ms. Harrod said she believed that there was a groundswell of women who have had regrets about their own abortions and that as they made their feelings known, "we think the numbers will go down as minors learn more about their options." either way, she said, her organization will push for stricter standards and more public accountability for judicial bypass through access to judges' records.

But providers interviewed in 10 states with parental involvement laws all said that of the minors who came into their clinics, parents were more often the ones pushing for an abortion, even against the wishes of their daughters.

"i see far more parents trying to pressure their daughters to have one," said jane bovard, owner of the red river women's clinic in fargo, n.D., a state where a minor needs consent from both parents. "as a parent myself, I can understand. But I say to parents, 'you force her to have this abortion, and I can tell you that within the next six months she's going to be pregnant again.' "

renee chelian, director of northland family planning centers in the detroit area, said she had had to call the police on parents who wanted their daughters to have abortions, "because they threaten physical violence on the kids."

ms. Chelian added that the laws might have unseen effects, including driving some teenagers to try to abort their pregnancies on their own.

"kids talk among themselves," she said. "when we tell them they need to go to court or tell their parents, that's when they tell us there's a web site" for chemicals or herbal remedies that claims to induce abortions.

Nearly all state parental involvement laws allow for minors to bypass their parents by going through a judge. Providers interviewed in 10 states all said that the process was generally not cumbersome, but that some girls would be afraid to go to court.

For nicole, the 16-year-old in the allentown clinic, the hard part was telling her estranged father.

"it was my choice to tell him," she said. "it hurt him, but he understands and is there for me. So in a way it brought us closer together."

http://www.Nytimes.Com/2006/03/06/national /06abortion.Html?Ei=5088&en=c1260d4c6d 56fef3&ex=1299301200&adxnnl=1& partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=117 0976056-xxg47r7d3m4loops8y1zja

should there be parental notification laws? Should there be ways to circumvent these laws? Should 17 year olds be held to the same standards as 14 year olds? Should minors from a state that has implemented parental notification laws be 'allowed' to obtain an abortion in a state that does not have such a law?
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replied February 8th, 2007
Especially eHealthy
State lines are not fences; if someone cannot obtain something in their own state they have every right to go to another.

As for the age issue... Yes, I do feel a 14 year old should be treated differently than a 17 year old. Actually, it would be interesting to see the age that you no longer need parental consent to abort to be set at the same age where you no longer need their consent to have sex and/or marry.

I know in several states that this age is as low as 16, sometimes 15. If a parent is alright with their daughter marrying, and going off, then I think they should be fine with that girl obtaining an abortion without asking.

I mean, if they marry, they're going to have sex! And if they've reached the age of consent, then sex may happen too. Maybe not immediately of course - not every girl loses her virginity on the night of her age-of-consent birthday.

But I do know of couples who had to wait for the girl to reach the right age before they had sex - highschoolers obviously. They waited because they didn't want to get arrested - not because they weren't ready. Sometimes, they aren't ready, even then, but that's not the point.

If the age of consent for sex in a state is 16, then that's where the requirement for parental consent should end.

Conversely, I believe that younger girls should have to inform their parents. These are little girls, barely young women! They are children, even at age 14 or 15. I was still a kid back then.

I think I like the idea of parental notification, but not necessarily permission. I don't think a parent has domain over a teen's body. Do I think it would be right for doctors and parents to convince a 12 year old to abort because it is safer for her body? Yes.

Just because you are having sex does not mean you are a mature person!

Just an idea!
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replied February 17th, 2007
Extremely eHealthy
I have a very basic stand on this, the one that is adopted by english law. That is that provided a person is deemed competent to understand the nature of the procedure/risks/side effects/what will happen if it is or isn't carried out then they have the ability to make the decision alone.
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replied February 17th, 2007
Especially eHealthy
moo wrote:
i have a very basic stand on this, the one that is adopted by english law. That is that provided a person is deemed competent to understand the nature of the procedure/risks/side effects/what will happen if it is or isn't carried out then they have the ability to make the decision alone.

i agree, however in a case of abortion, time is of the essence, and a explortory board to determine competency could eat up valuable time, ending up the the girl not being able to abort at a safe time in her pregnancy.
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