Should Abortion for Underage Children Require Parental Consent – No

Why would there be a law requiring parental consent for an underage girl to get an abortion? Obviously it is to reduce the number of abortions undergone by underage girls. If girls require consent for an abortion, some will not get that consent and not be able to obtain an abortion. Remember that such a law will not reduce underage pregnancies, but only underage abortions.

Why are we seeking to reduce abortions in this age group, rather than focusing on reducing pregnancies? Once an underage girl is pregnant, that pregnancy has a high chance of being dangerous for her. Requiring parental consent to have an abortion is foolish because of the parents who would rather endanger their daughter’s health by refusing to give consent than “participate” in an abortion (by giving consent.)

Parents are supposed to do what is best for their child. Having a 13 or 14 year old girl carry a baby to term and give birth to it is not the best thing for her physically, and having a child at that age is not the best thing for her mentally, emotionally, or financially. Forcing her to continue the pregnancy, therefore, is bad parenting and inherently wrong, even if the parents plan to reduce the burden by helping out financially. Child labour is against the law because parents do not own their children’s bodies and cannot force them into circumstances where their bodies are being taxed unreasonably, and I have a hard time believing that going through pregnancy and birth would not tax a 13 or 14 year old’s body unreasonably. (Yes, women used to give birth at that age all the time, but that was also when giving birth was the leading cause of death among women.)

Why would any parent want to force their child to continue with an unwanted and most likely (due to their age) dangerous pregnancy? Religious reasons are obviously one answer, but I dismiss that as a logical reason. There will be those who vehemently disagree with me, but I have never believed that religion was an appropriate excuse to inflict any kind of stress on another human being.

Another possible reason is these parents believe that by allowing their daughter an abortion they are letting her “off the hook.”  There is a widespread sentiment that a girl should be “punished” for having sex, and that having to be responsible for the resulting baby is a fit punishment. Obviously you don’t want your daughter to think that her actions don’t have consequences, but parents are not just there to teach their children not to make mistakes; they are also there to protect their children during the learning process when mistakes will inevitably be made.

Some mistakes are so big that the consequences are unacceptable, but at the same time those consequences will interfere with health, safety, growing, learning and/or becoming a productive member of society, and therefore the consequences MUST be alleviated by the parents. For example: your 15 year old is not supposed to borrow the car, but she does, and ends up in a serious accident. Would you deny her medical treatment even if she may die or lose a limb without it, just because helping her will be “letting her get away with it,” or because being paralyzed for life is a fitting punishment? I believe a parent might actually be charged with criminal negligence if they tried to do that! So why force your daughter to carry an unwanted pregnancy?

Any time a new law is up for discussion its consequences should be weighed. Is it possible that underage girls who want an abortion, but require parental consent and know their parents will be furious when they find out about the pregnancy, might run away rather than be punished for the pregnancy? Might they end up on the streets, manipulated by dishonest people, ending up in the child sex trade? (This happens to runaways all the time.)  Might they try to get to another state, or another country, on their own to obtain an abortion without consent (making themselves vulnerable to being raped or even murdered) or might they just try it on their own with a coat hanger, resulting in infection and death? All of these things are highly realistic consequences of requiring parental consent for abortion, and all of them are horrible. 

Despite all of the reasons that parents should support their daughters’ decisions to terminate a pregnancy, there will still be parents who are willing to force their daughters through harmful negative consequences, if given the chance. Requiring parental consent for abortion gives them that chance, which is why consent should not be required.