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June 14, 2005

Posts You Should Really Read

Need a reason to reject the parental consent law that'll be on the California ballot this Fall?  Here you go.

Via Neil.

June 14, 2005 | Permalink

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A truly tragic story.

Like all of these stories I have seen so far though, it does not convince me to reject parental notification laws.

What this girl really needed was not an abortion (although I don't necessarily disagree with her decision to get one) but she needed an adult who could help her deal with her problems, and quite possibly to be removed from the care of her family.

The solution that you propose, that we should simply abandon girls like this and provide her the tools to deal with her most acute problems, but no motivation or help with the truly signifigant ones seems extremely cold hearted to me.

I will back up anyone on having as a part of parental control laws a strong system of counciling and child protective services to deal with this sort of problem. The idea though that a 13 yo girl, when having these sort of problems and facing the need for an abortion should just have minimal tools to try and be self reliant is repellant however.

If the girl had been forced to deal with an adult at 13 when she became pregnant, a lot of her later pain could have been spared. Yes, sometimes parents are bad parents. But the solution is not to hide this, but to force it out in the open and get the fundamental problems solved.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jun 14, 2005 2:16:42 PM

I actually agree with you Dave. Problem is, we don't get to choose between your law and the real parentla notification bills, we only get the ones that abandon this girl to her family. And that can't happen.

Posted by: Ezra | Jun 14, 2005 2:20:48 PM

And then we can go right ahead and pass the parental notification laws after the systems you suggest that insure that no child will suffer from bad parenting are in place and functioning well. Until that point, parental notification laws are a terrible idea.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Jun 14, 2005 2:22:32 PM

In defense of this particular bill, the law does provide a fairly simple mechanism for judicial waiver in a timely fashion (two days, in fact).

That doesn't address the problem that people in these kinds of situations are usually terrified to tell *anyone*, and so wouldn't be emotionally capable of seeking a judicial waiver.

But the drafters of the initiative do seem to have taken into account some of the needs of children who can't talk to their parents.

Posted by: aphrael | Jun 14, 2005 3:07:10 PM

Alley Rat's experience is also a strong argument for why we need real sex-ed in schools. Just saying, "don't have sex," doesn't work in all cases; but knowing that pulling-out still includes a high risk of pregnancy that condoms could have greatly reduced could have helped in avoiding at least one part of this tragedy.

Posted by: pansauce | Jun 14, 2005 3:18:03 PM

Ezra,

Nice to see something we agree on. I don't know enough about this specific bill to judge how well or poorly it does on this score. As a tactical point though, I think if Democrats moved toward a 'teen safety net' along with parental notifications as a their goal they would find a lot of support from outside their core belief.

I don't think the party can do this though, because the very idea that a girl, even a girl from a loving and supportive family, should be required to have parental notification before an abortion is an anathema to too many core members of the party.

In many ways, that is one of the problems with 'horror stories' like this. For the core believers on the left, it is a straw man they are putting up, this isn't the real reason for their opposition to the idea of parental notification. Similar tactics of course exist on the right, where once again, it is base opposition to abortion, not lack of notification that is motivating them.

This is one of the things that make the abortion debate so frusterating for me, there are good common sense solutions in the middle, but the activists on both sides will never let them see the light of day.


Pansauce,

I agree with you that sex-ed should be completely factual and honest. However, I think that the girl's pregnancy was only a very small part of her tradgedy.

Anyone who is having sex for acceptance, regardless of age is in a tragic situation in my opinion. This is even more true of young teens.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jun 14, 2005 4:19:42 PM

No aphrael, the drafters of this initiative seem to recognize the bare minimum required by the Supreme Court to uphold a parental notification law. And waiting 2 days for a judge to tell you that you can make your own decision is not exactly timely or simple. Why don't you go ask alleyrat what she thinks would have happened to her friend if she had had to go down to a courthouse and wait two days?

Posted by: jengould | Jun 14, 2005 9:38:10 PM

Jengould - as someone who grew up in a family with abusive parents, I can easily iamgine what would have happened had she had to go down to a courthouse and wait two days.

That said, two days is *unbelievably* fast for the judicial system. The only thing which works on a comparable time scale is election challenges. It's not really reasonable to expect faster response times unless you're willing to pay for a group of judges whose only job is to sit around waiting for one of these waiver requests to come up - and even then, it's not clear that they'd be able to respond to everything faster than that.

I don't like parental notification laws in general, because I think they create a small gain in situations where there is a stable, functioning family in which the pregnant daughter doesn't want to tell her parents but it would really be ok if she did (the kind of family that the proponents of these measures imagine everyone lives in), while at the same time making life significantly more difficult for people who live in families which are indistinguishable from the gateways to hell (the kind of family which the proponents of these measures don't want to admit exist). It's not a good trade-off.

That said, this particular measure strikes me as being better than it could be, and better than I expected it to be (having read previous incarnations of it when they were circulating). The mechanism proposed is simple and fast, and only one parent needs to be notified (instead of both, which is typically the case in such laws).

The mechanism also provides *nothing* for those who are so emotionally scarred that they can't trust anyone, and can't bring themselves to believe that the judicial system won't simply decide for their parents and reinforce the walls of the prison of their life; and that's why i'm going to vote against it. Yet it still strikes me as a better-than-expected implementation of a bad idea.

Posted by: aphrael | Jun 15, 2005 3:06:05 PM

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 16, 2007 10:04:11 PM

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