Monday, 23 May 2011

Parental notification is defacto parental consent

Make no mistake:  parental notification for teen abortions is actually about parental consent for teen abortions.

Let's consider the broader position of those who advocate strongly for parental notification (not just those who agree when asked the right magical question).

Do they support the right of pregnant adults to have abortion on demand?  No.

Do they support funding for independent counselling services, not run by anti-choice organisations?  No.

Do they support Family Planning and their work to improve both sex education and access to contraception?  No.

Do they support early medication abortion, because it is easier both physically and psychologically?  No.

Do they seek to reinforce the position, shared by our current unfair law, that the pregnant person is not the person who should decide whether or not to terminate their own pregnancy?  Yes.

The point of changing the law to get parental notification is to yet again take power away from the pregnant person.  Notification will become defacto parental consent.  And that is just another way of saying the pregnant person can't, shouldn't, musn't decide. 

It is wrong that certifying consultants have the power to deny or allow abortions.*  It would be just as wrong for parents to have that power.  Even if that power is exercised over their own child, and they are under 16.

Many good points have been made in other blog posts about the relationships of parents and their children, and how while parental involvement can be encouraged it should not be mandated.  I'm not able to put a great link farm of all that good stuff together right now.  I agree with many of the arguments that have been made - about the right of teens to privacy, about the vulnerability of those who will be in abusive family environments, about the problem with parental notification where someone in a parental role may be the father, about respecting that people should choose who supports them.

I agree with all of that, and at base it all boils down to one thing for me; respecting the right of the pregnant person to control their own body, and acknowledging no one is in a better position to make that choice than they are.




*  This should in no way be read as a criticism of the many excellent certifying consultants who do difficult work in challenging circumstances.  I heart them.

9 comments:

stef said...

the jig is up...

Boganette said...

Awesome post Julie. Well said.

big news said...

As a person who sides on giving parents the option of being informed, I would answer more than half of the above questions differently to how you would anticipate I would.

Julie said...

Feel free to tell us which ones Dave :-)

Please also explain your idea of giving parents the _option_ of being informed. How would this work in practice? How would it differ from now?

Anonymous said...

Parents already have the option of being informed. The option of their daughter telling them.

Rebecca

Amanda said...

"Please also explain your idea of giving parents the _option_ of being informed. How would this work in practice? How would it differ from now?"

I'd imagine Julie that it involves words like "mandatory".

Funny how some people seeing young women exercising there options don't actually see them as 'options'...or the young women as people capable of choosing options.

ms p said...

Very good point Julie, about how the weaselling wording of 'notification' obscures the real intent.

Another coded message seems to be that doctors and counsellors can't be trusted to offer professional, neutral advice to a young woman - that they might somehow be corrupting young women into have abortions against the women's interests. Contrary to what pro-lifers love to believe, there isn't an abortion industry.

Matt said...

I would answer "yes" to your first 4 questions and no to the next question rephrased as "Do they seek to reinforce the position, shared by our current unfair law, that the pregnant [i]adult[/i] is not the person who should decide whether or not to terminate their own pregnancy?"

To me it isn't really an abortion issue at all, it is more of an issue of when society decides that a teenager is an adult. If society decides that a 14 year old is fully capable (as an adult) of taking independent advice to come to the correct decision for them, then that is fine.

However, looking at the bulk of our age based laws I don't think that is currently society's thinking. In which case parents should be notified, be it for an abortion, or for approval for a school trip.

Amanda said...

Matt: Indeed, it plays into the bigger societal narrative that does not bestow personhood on a child or teenager until they have reached some age or "proven themselves", which infantalizes young people.