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Parenting: the Parental Consent for Abortion

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Abortion is a legal option for women who decide that a pregnancy is not in their best interest at the moment. For women ages fifteen to forty-four, the states that offer sex education, and in which abortions are more widely accepted, have higher abortion rates than states that do not offer accurate sex education. However, they also have lower teen birth rates. The terminated pregnancy avoids the many negative consequences of having a child at a young age. In most states, abortions for minors require parental consent, which makes it difficult for young adults to obtain an abortion because she must consult her parents. Her parents could choose to not give consent thus putting their daughter in a difficult situation. She could choose to have the child, which could lead to a life of poverty or fight her parents through the judicial system. If she chooses to fight her parents, it will put a strain on her emotional well-being because her parents may become angry that she went against their ruling. There are many ramifications to becoming a teenage mother so it is important to give women the opportunity to make her own choice about what is best for her.

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In all states, parental consent and/or notification is currently required for a minor to receive an abortion because parents believe young adults are incapable of making such an important decision because they are not mature enough. However, if a young adult is responsible enough to have safe sex, then she should be able to determine if she wants an abortion. Parents do not have absolute veto over the their daughters decision, but if she wishes to go against her parent’s decision they must receive approval through a clear and convincing evidence, which allows the daughter to prove she is “mature or that the abortion is in her best interest prior to waiving the state’s parental involvement requirement.

A teenager should not have to provide more evidence that she is mature enough to have an abortion, going to the court and asking for an abortion against her parent’s wishes should be enough evidence. The court is making it more difficult for the teen to have an abortion, which can discourage her and possibly change her mind changing her entire life. Another route a young woman could take if she wishes to terminate the pregnancy is to get a judicial bypass. “This allows the woman to “consent to receive medical care without parental consent or notification if the court determines that the minor has the maturity to make independent decisions”. Like the clear and convincing evidence, an adolescent should not need to provide more information to the courts. By going to the courts, she is taking responsibility for not have safe sex and looking out for her future. Unfortunately, the clear and convincing evidence and judicial bypass are not an option in all states. In addition, maturity is subjective so it is hard for the court system to determine the mature level women. If a woman is mature enough to understand the consequences of having a child, thus making the decision to abort, then she should be able to obtain it without her parent’s input. The decision to go to the court to fight her parents is evidence that she is mature enough to make an informed decision without her parents intervening.

It is important for a young adult to be able to make her own decision without her parents consent because if the parents choose to not allow her to take the sex education class, then they are restricting her freedom. If young adults have unprotected sex, then it is the fault of failed sex education for not teaching them how to be safe and letting teenagers think getting pregnant could never happen to them. The teenager who is pregnant is scared of what her parents and peers may think and will shy away from telling them because she does not want to feel hated or like she disappointed them. The options of the clear and convincing evidence and the judicial bypass are helpful to the young mothers who wish to have an abortion, but parents do not. However, since not all states offer these options, it forces the young mother to either tell her parents or have the child. If parental consent is no longer a requirement across the country, teens who become pregnant will be able to access safe abortions without having to face their parents because they could access an abortion on their own, immensely decrease the number of teen births across the country, keeping young women in school and helping to keep women from going into poverty.

In addition to removing parental consent for abortions, young adults should not need the approval of her parents to receive sex education because it restricts their opportunity to learn. If a parent chooses they do not want their child to participate in sex education classes in school then it puts the child at risk for having an unplanned pregnancy. In sex education classes, sex is not the only topic that is taught; there is also consent and STD prevention. It is part of our culture for adults to talk about sex, but there is a stigma around talking about sex with young adults. The rhetoric surrounding younger people having sex is negative, hence why abstinence only education is in most states. Sex is considered an adult behavior so when younger people are partaking in it, it is seen as bad. People assume that if you talk about sex with a young adult they will be the ones to corrupt them, but teens have already seen sexual behavior online and in movies and many have already participated in sexual behavior. Inversely, if schools do not talk about sex, teens will not suddenly forget about sexual behavior and stop taking part in it. What is best, is to give all teens the opportunity to be educated. By mandating sex education laws to involve all students, despite their parents, and all information be medically accurate, teens will be safer after learning all of the correct information. Young adults should be given the opportunity to access sex education because it would decrease teen birth and STD rates since more young adults would know about more of the protection options such as the male and female condom.

Some adults believe they should be involved in the sex education and process. They view teens as vulnerable children rather than young adults in society. Due to the stigma around teenagers having sex and the exposure they receive through media, parents try to intervene to protect their children from participating in sexual behavior. Although teens do know less than parents about sex, if they never get exposed to it, they will never learn. Sex education introduces sexual behavior to young adults, so by prohibiting them from taking the class, they will therefore not take part in sexual acts. This is the thought process that a parent may go through, however, educating teenagers on the risks of their behavior is the best way to prevent sexual behavior because it allows them to understand why they should be safe if they choose to participate in sexual behavior. Sex education also explains that it is ok to say no to sexual behavior. Young adults should have the opportunity to access sex education to learn about the safety percussions so then they can make an informed decisions, by themselves, on sex and abortions.

Many parents also believe there should be parental involvement for minors to access parental abortions. The decision to have an abortion is great because it can change the entire course of a young adult’s life. Instead of focusing on a newborn ‘s wants a needs, the young adult can continue her life. However, Linda Lowen, an unbiased freelance writer states, “Those who choose abortions are often minors or young women with insufficient life experience to understand fully what they are doing. Many have lifelong regrets afterwards” (Lowen). The parents are looking out for their child because they are worried they will have wished they went through with the pregnancy. Parents want to protect their teenagers from the repercussions of being a teenage mother, but some want to do it by having them abstain from all sexual activity. This is not realistic because teenagers have hormones and urges, which they will act upon despite their parent’s wishes. Although parents are trying to look out for their children, they are not giving teens a chance to make decisions for themselves. Teens are able to comprehend the negative repercussions of having an abortion and being a teenage mother, but in order to, they need to be educated.

In addition, a parent may not want their child to have an abortion because of religious beliefs. In the Christian religion life begins at conception (Lowen). Religious parents would not want their child to have an abortion because, in their eyes, they would be committing murder. Also, there are other options besides abortion such as adoption: another route mothers can take to avoid the consequences of having a child at a young age. Adoption is when the mother has the child but then gives up the child to a family who is struggling to have a child of their own. However, this option forces the young adult to give birth which is physically and emotionally draining. Although teenagers are young and not necessarily experienced and there are other options besides abortion, if the mother chooses she wants to have an abortion then she should have the freedom to access it.

Teenagers should have the opportunity to learn how to have sex safely and the freedom to obtain an abortion without parental consent because we live in a time when many teenagers are partaking in unsafe sexual activity. While parents want to protect their teens from sexual activity and the repercussions of becoming a young mother, teens need to be educated because sheltering them does not teach them why they should abstain. Adolescents are needing abortions because they are getting pregnant because they do not know how to stay safe. If teens are educated properly how to be safe when having sex, then there is a smaller chance of teenagers getting pregnant. However, no method of protection is a hundred percent effective, therefore abortions should not require parental consent so teens can acquire one more easily. Young adults have an undeniable right to access information. The current laws regarding sex education and abortion restrict teens access to that information based on their parent’s beliefs. Education should be mandated across the country so all adolescents have an equal opportunity to keep themselves safe. Parental involvement in both sex education and abortions restricts young adult’s opportunity and freedom and therefore should have the right to make their own decisions. 

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