Parents, Do You Know Where Your Daughters Are?

Parental notification laws save lives – born and unborn.

It’s been a big week for abortion news.

First of all, on May 7th, the Colorado state legislature passed a parental notification law. This is a big deal for a couple of reasons. One, it is the first time in Colorado history that any law has been passed restricting abortion. Since we have the dubious distinction of being among the first states to legalize abortion, I think it’s about time we did something to put the genie back into the bottle.

Second, parental notification laws save lives. Every state that has enacted such laws has reported a decline, not only in the number of teen abortions performed, but in the total number of teen pregnancies. Apparently teenagers think twice about sexual activity when they realize that their parents could find out about it.
Third, this law is a big deal because it reflects the will of the people of Colorado. In 1998, the voters here passed a parental notification law, which was then struck down by the courts. I shudder to think of the abortions performed and the young lives ruined while the lawyers and special interest groups sued and counter-sued.

The other big abortion news came out just today. A study, published in the latest issue of the Medical Science Monitor, showed that women who undergo abortions are 65% more likely to experience clinical depression than women who give birth. And this isn’t just an “oh, darn, I just had an abortion last week” kind of depression. The increased propensity to depression was still found an average of eight years after the actual abortion. And study author David Reardon says that this may be only the tip of the iceberg. "Only 40 percent of the abortions that we would expect to find among a sample this size are reported [here]." he said. "This means many women who actually had an abortion were misclassified as only having had births, which would tend to dilute the results." He added, "The women who conceal their abortions very probably have higher rates of depression than those who more readily reveal their abortion history. Given the 60 percent concealment rate in this data set, the fact that we still found significantly higher depression scores among those admitting a history of abortion suggests that the effect must be quite strong."

Is it just me, or does anyone else see a connection between these two news items?

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, predictably, fought the parental notification bill tooth and nail. In fact, they never used the term “parental notification” without the adjective “dangerous” in front of it – so their press releases all referred to the “dangerous parental notification bill.” One gets the impression that they thought that was the name of the bill.

When the original law was struck down by the courts, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Elaine Brilliant (who is, to my mind, most assuredly not so), said “We are relieved that the court understood the danger that this law poses for many young women in Colorado. . . . The law should not endanger the health of those teens who cannot turn to their parents.”

But is it really parental notification that is dangerous, or is it the lack of such notification that puts our teens at risk? It seems to me that today’s study is just one more in a long list of reasons why abortion is dangerous – physically, emotionally and spiritually -- to our teenagers.

Teenagers are notoriously poor at evaluating risk. Recent evidence even shows that the part of the brain that regulates risk-taking is not fully developed until the late teens to early twenties. Thus, teenagers tend to think exclusively about the here and now. If they have a problem, they want the problem to go away, and they’ll jump at any solution that will work. They don’t often grasp the long-term consequences of those solutions. Pregnancy is, of course, one of the biggest problems in the teenage universe. Not so much for the obvious reasons – a child brought into an unstable situation, a lifetime of responsibility, etc. For them it’s about the more immediate problems, primarily “my parents are going to find out I’m having sex.” Abortion gets rid of the pregnancy. Problem solved. The long term will take care of itself.

This, my friends, is why teenagers were endowed by God with parents. It is the parents’ responsibility to evaluate the risks their children face. It is the parents’ responsibility to make decisions that will affect the long-term welfare of their children. It is the parents’ responsibility to protect their children – and, in these cases, their children’s children.

According to Planned Parenthood’s web site, 43 states have parental consent or notification laws on the books. But nine of these states’ laws aren’t in effect because they’re tied up in court. Seven other states and the District of Columbia have no laws regarding parental notification or consent. Which means, according to my math, that there are 16 states plus a District where teenagers can obtain abortions without their parents’ knowledge or consent. If you live in such a place, get busy -- now. 

Parental notification laws save lives.