Politics & Policy

Aborting Parental Rights…

…and good sense.

Do you know of any school that dispenses Tylenol without parental permission? They pretty universally can’t. But in six states and the District of Columbia, it is currently legal for a child to get an abortion without a parent’s permission. In 11 states, parental-consent laws are bogged down in court rulings. The majority of states, 33, have working prohibitions on kids getting abortions without parental permission.

The debate over parental notification is red hot: Priscilla Owen’s judicial nomination was partly held up by Senate Democrats because of a parental-notification ruling she made on the Texas supreme court.

Now the nation’s top court has agreed to get involved in the issue. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to New Hampshire’s parental-consent law in its fall term. The Granite State’s law requires a girl’s parents to be notified 48 hours before an abortion is performed. Last year, a federal appeals court found that the law was unconstitutional based on a 1992 Supreme Court precedent that forbids any “undue burden” on the exercise of (court-imposed) abortion rights.

The headlines about the New Hampshire case make the parental-involvement issue seem so much more controversial and complicated than it should be. “Supreme Court Rejoins Fractious Abortion Debate,” the New York Times announced.

Take away the obvious frenzies that come with any abortion or Supreme Court-related matter (never mind the two combined), the big picture this time is as clear-cut common sense as you get in the abortion debate.

In New Hampshire–the state that now heads up the steps of the nation’s highest Court to defend its right to require parental notice for minor abortions–children under 18 must have a parent’s permission to use tanning machines. Tanning machines. If they’re under age 14, they must also have a doctor’s note.

Some of those other “free” states also have skewed priorities: In California, parental permission is also required for 14 to 17 year-olds to use tanning machines, and children under 14 are prohibited from using them, period. These same kids can have abortions without so much as a peep to a parent.

In New York, where there is no abortion parental-consent or -notice law, kids’ can’t get a nose ring or a tattoo without the folks’ O.K. Music to many parents ears, perhaps, but ludicrous when you realize a girl can get an abortion at the clinic across the street from the tattoo parlor without Mom or Dad knowing she is pregnant.

An April Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll found 78 percent of respondents supporting parental-notification requirements for children obtaining abortions. Similar polls have had similar results–including an April Quinnipiac University poll that had 73 percent in agreement with notification requirements.

Opponents who argue that consent requirements or mere notification further injures victims of incest, for instance, are a mere distraction, because most of these girls would get legal protection.

At the heart of the yelling against a common-sense attempt to keep kids away from making such a grave decision without parental inclusion is the worry that guides a lot of the actions from the Left in America today: an opposition to anything that might in anyway restrict legal abortion in America.

Dems like Hillary Clinton talk the talk about wanting to find a common ground on abortion, but then–as Senator Clinton has–oppose a bill now before the Senate that would prohibit a teen in a parental-consent state from obtaining an abortion in a reproductively “free” state.

Until abortion advocates like Hill walk the talk and embrace perfectly sensible restrictions on their sacred right to privacy, good luck reaching that majority of Americans who see parental-consent laws as simply normal.

(c) 2005, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.


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