On teenage abortion . . .

Posted: Sunday, June 06, 2010

WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE A STAND ON abortion here today.

We are taking a stand on the government's obligation.

An initiative will appear on the primary ballot in August asking voters to approve a requirement that parents be notified when a daughter under 18 seeks an abortion.

This initiative, approved for the ballot last week by the state Supreme Court, would require physicians to personally inform parents when preparing to perform an abortion for a minor child. If the physician doesn't follow the law, he or she faces up to five years in jail.

Those who oppose the initiative argue this: There are young women for whom parental notification would simply make an already heart-wrenching situation much worse.

Those young women may have been victims of incestuous rape. They may come from already dysfunctional homes, where loving and caring communication between parent and child never existed at all.

They may even live in legitimate fear of their safety, should their pregnancy be known.

We know these situations exist. The number of them is insignificant to the debate; for just one young woman to suffer under any of these conditions is too much.

What happens to a young woman in any of these situations if this initiative passes? What happens?

Can the state make a rule requiring parental notification and simply ignore that final question?

We think not.

If ever there is a time when support is essential to the well being of an individual, it would be in such a case - where a young woman finds herself pregnant, with no familial support.

And if the state has the right to dictate the circumstances under which that young woman is allowed to make the decision to terminate that pregnancy, then the state should feel the obligation to ensure her physical and emotional well being, as well.

That's where this initiative falls short.

Our only other option is for the state to divorce itself from the entire abortion debate. But that's not likely to happen.

Under those circumstances, we believe the state should do much more - require family counseling, alternative temporary living options for the young woman, protective orders if deemed necessary.

But let's not make simplistic rules that we know may put some young women in harm's way.

In short: If the state is going to require parental notification it should also take responsibility for the young woman's safety at home.

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