That’s between a girl and her…judge?


Then there’s the parental notification requirement. Mother Jones looks at the problems.

Susan Hays, a Texas attorney who represents minors through a group called Jane’s Due Process, says about a third of the girls she works with don’t have the option of asking their parents for permission—they’re undocumented immigrants whose parents are not in the country, orphans, or what Hays calls “de facto orphans”: “Mom’s dead, Dad’s in prison, they never liked me much anyway.”

She once represented a minor whose parents ran a meth ring: “She had split because she had the distinct impression they were going to start pimping her out.” Legal guardians may grant permission for an abortion in most states. But this is no help to girls who live with family members who never established guardianship.

It isn’t supposed to be this way. In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that a girl’s parents can’t exercise an absolute veto over her right to an abortion: States requiring parental notification or consent had to provide an escape hatch. The court did not mandate what form this escape hatch should take. Maine, for example, allows a physician to decide whether the minor is competent enough to make her own decision. But that’s not good enough for anti-abortion activists. Led by Americans United for Life, the legislative wing of the pro-life movement, they’ve advanced laws to put the decision in the hands of judges instead.

Why stop there? Why not just let parents and judges decide that underage girls must get pregnant?

…in practice, girls are at the mercy of whichever judge they happen to draw, says Anne Dellinger, a retired University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill professor who has studied the bypass system. “If a girl wanders into the wrong [court], she doesn’t have a chance,” Dellinger says. With few checks on the system, Hays adds, judges are free to impose their beliefs on the girls who appear before them: “It’s the law of bullies.”

Bullies who get to ruin the lives of teenage girls by forcing them to stay pregnant against their wills.

Comments

  1. shadow says

    Too bad they can’t be made fiscally responsible for the unwanted child. That would probably alter their belief.

    Same with the pols that pass these requirements. Send them the bills.

  2. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Bullies who get to ruin the lives of teenage girls by forcing them to stay pregnant against their wills.

    I believe they call that ‘working as intended’. :-(

  3. Katydid says

    I read a longer version of this story, where the judge refused permission for a raped 14-year-old to get an abortion because she was too “careless” to make that decision…as if such a teen would go on to be an ideal parent? Another, 17-year-old, college-bound (multiple scholarship) teen was refused because “she’s too smart to ruin her life like this” (because forcing her to drop out of school and depend on whatever scraps of assistance she can scrape together to raise herself and a baby would be a much better use of her intelligence and drive?).

  4. Morgan says

    Another, 17-year-old, college-bound (multiple scholarship) teen was refused because “she’s too smart to ruin her life like this”

    …What kind of catch-22 is this? You’re too smart to make a bad decision, so if you’re making a decision I don’t like you’re clearly not in your right mind and I shouldn’t respect it? What?

  5. Jackie says

    Those judges should have to pay for the girls’ therapy, housing and medical costs during the pregnancy and adopt the unwanted babies afterwards.

  6. John Horstman says

    All people who are able to advocate for their own medical care by, like, asking for medical care should not need anyone else’s permission to do so. “Parental rights” are BS – there ARE no parental rights, only parental responsibilities.

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