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Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Girl and Her Choice

At National Review, Katherine Jean Lopez recently posted an article about a Supreme Court case regarding parental notification for abortion. Specifically, New Hampshire is coming under scrutiny, and the Family Research Council has filed an amicus brief. In this brief, the FRC does something we sometimes forget to do: gives a theoretical example of a child in "need" of unnotified abortion a name. It names her Jane, and discusses what she faces.

Much of the brief gives arguments that are familiar to many of us, though it carries the arguments more clearly toward their logical conclusions. The law, it points out, in every state recognizes that a teenager does not have the decision-making maturity that an adult has. I highly recommend reading the National Review article, if nothing else, to see the strong case that the brief makes for this point.

The point that really struck me, though, came next. Assuming a very strong case for the need for abortion without parental notification, the example shows Jane as pregnant, and with a serious medical condition.

"Doctors inform Jane that her pregnancy and expectant motherhood — challenging and rattling as they are — are complicated by a serious health risk which, doctors say, has to be dealt with now. Delay of even two days, they say, is dangerous. Though she is free to call out to her parents for help, Jane does not wish to do so, at least not yet.

The doctors keep telling her to choose now."

The thing we often tend to ignore in much of abortion rhetoric is that abortion is not only a medical procedure, it is also a business. It involves a contractual service, and one that is irrevocable at that, for non-refundable cash upfront. It is the only contract I know of that a minor can sign unprotected by parent or guardian.

The teenager -- Jane -- is pressured to make a decision that impacts her health, carries serious risks to her health, and even potentially to her life. This pressure is to sign, without any time to think about it, a contract that she cannot change her mind about. She is pressured to do this, in the absence of parental notification laws, without any help or support from her family. As the document points out, she does not have a husband, by definition, because this would make her emancipated. So this youngster who is presumed not to have the judgment to determine what kind of pain medicine to take for a headache is forced to make a decision that has life-changing effects, without the help of her loved ones. Not merely asked, but in many cases indeed pressured.

If an adult woman buys a vacuum cleaner from a door-to-door salesman, in many states, she has three days to change her mind. It takes weeks to obtain a home equity loan. It takes months to buy a house. It takes years to decide what you want to be when you grow up. And you can change your mind about all of these decisions; but the decision to abort is permanent, much more emotionally vested, and "protected," in cases where parental notification does not exist, against the imposition of either having help making a decision or having the right to change one's mind.

The people who stand to make a profit from Jane's decision to abort... should they really be the only ones allowed to assist her in making this choice?