Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Guest post: Why minors deserve a choice as well

By smkreig, cross-posted from The Comfort

As many of you may remember, there was a heated debate earlier in the year about supposed ‘secret’ abortions which were being performed on teenagers without their parents knowledge or consent. There was a public outcry about how schools and heath-care facilities (or in a broader view, the state) were taking the place of parents in helping the minor make the decision of if they should or should not carry the pregnancy to term. Many suggested that the school (or health professional) should have to inform the parents when a minor is considering an abortion.

I don’t understand how these people came to this conclusion. I agree that people should be encouraged to talk to trusted friends and family about their situation - especially if they are finding it overwhelming. A strong support network is important for any teen; but this is where many people missed the point. In suggesting that parents/guardians should be informed when their minor is pregnant and considering an abortion, they also suggest that these parents/guardians are part of a trusted support network for the teen. This is by no means always true. Parents are humans and therefore they can be abusive, coercive or even be the cause of the pregnancy. There is often a reason why a teenager will come to a guidance counsellor, nurse, or doctor in confidence. If the woman trusted her parents and considered them supportive, she would most probably have gone to them for support.

It also suggests that the parents know what is best for the teen and her uterus; and this is where the argument really fails. Some people suggest that it is important to inform the parents because they will also be affected by the pregnancy. No doubt, the parents can choose to help look after the child, they can choose to help fund its upbringing. So why should they not have a say, if THEY want a grandchild? Simply put; their role as grandparents can be abandoned. The fact that the young woman needs to carry the foetus in her uterus; needs to endure pregnancy; needs to make the decision of what to do after it is born: this cannot be abandoned if she is denied the individual choice of abortion. Someone who is not directly, and undeniably affected by the pregnancy cannot claim to know what is best for the woman who is pregnant, becuase they therefore put their preference and morals infront of the health; wellbeing; and autonomy of the woman as a human being.

This post is not about the ‘state raising our children’, it is about considering pregnant teens as self-possessing human beings, who are able to make a decision about their own bodies. If it was required for parents to be allowed to make a decision about their daughter’s foetus, the daughter should also have the choice to pass the obligation of pregnancy onto those who want to keep it.


This is part of a week of Pro-Choice Postings hosted here at The Hand Mirror starting on Friday 28th October 2011. For an index of all the posts, being updated as they go up, please check the Pro-Choice Postings index. And if you'd like to submit a post for cross-posting, guest posting or linking to please email


Suzanne said...

There are some difficult issues to do with abortion. Late term abortions. Gender selection abortions. Aborting selectively to reduce multiple births.

But confidential access to abortions by minors is not a difficult issue. It's an utterly straightforward one. What's worse than the state restricting access to abortion? The state delegating the power to restrict access to abortion to the people who most need free, safe, access. The people who most need society's support. Any sixteen year old who doesn't tell her parents she's pregnant - she's the kid that most needs no-one else to do that for her.

Catherine said...

I was raped at 14 in 1986. My parents supported me through the subsequent events. I know that not all parents would do the same. An example is when the teen is socially progressive but her parents are socially conservative.

Unfortunately most people still view minor children and teenagers as the property of their parents.