Thursday, July 27, 2006

Debate

The Child Custody Protection Act (S.403) mentioned in a previous post passed the Senate on Tuesday, such that "whoever knowingly transports a minor across a State line, with the intent that such minor obtain an abortion, and thereby in fact abridges the right of a parent under a law requiring parental involvement in a minor's abortion decision, in force in the State where the minor resides, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both." Votes on the measure by Senator, home state, and position are available here.

Two amendments to the bill were considered. One amendment, intended to fund programs to reduce teen pregnancies, was rejected (48-51). A second amendment to punish parents who commit incest, was approved (98-0).

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I think it's a complicated issue, and can understand the various viewpoints. Here are a list of debate points I have seen and considered regarding the topic. Thanks to Aunt B, bridgett (see Aunt B's comments), Short & Fat, smantix, and others for their thoughtful consideration.

  • Usurping parents' rights to consent to health care is a crime
    vs.
  • Requirements of parental consent views minors as parental property, analagous in history to the Fugitive Slave Act

  • Parental consent is required for other forms of legal medical care and less significant events such as field trips or receiving an aspirin at school.
    vs.
  • Minors typically have special consent rights regarding reproductive health, allowing them to consent on their own to things such as prenatal care, STD testing and treatment, HIV testing, and contraceptive services.

  • It is appropriate to criminally punish those who circumvent parents' rights and state law in order to help a minor obtain and abortion, much as it is criminalized to assist in the commission of other crimes
    vs.
  • It is hypocritical/inappropriate to be willing to punish the co-conspirators in the circumvention of state law while not punishing the minor seeking the abortion, similar to punishing the getaway driver but not the bank robber.

  • Parental involvement is a good thing. Girls should talk to their parents about decisions of abortion; this law affects very few girls who refuse to do so.
    vs.
  • While perhaps few in number, this law affects girls in the very worst of home situations, with the least supportive of parents. As stated by the American Association of University Women, "The government cannot mandate healthy family communication where it does not already exist." Assumes parents have the best interests of their child in mind, which may or may not be true.

  • Girls in parental consent states have an option to go before a judge rather than their parents
    vs.
  • Minor girls who we assume not capable of informed consent to abortion must then find the capacity to navigate the legal system, and receive judgement from an individual least familiar with their specific situations, rather than receiving the assistance of a trusted friend or relative

  • Allowing minors to receive abortions without parental involvement puts abortion providers in the position of potentially protecting rapists, particularly statutory rapists. This law at least puts parents in the position of being aware of the rape, and prevents older males from coercing young females into abortion.
    vs.
  • I have no idea what the counterpoint to that is. One commenter on Alternet suggested that a teen being forced to give birth to an abuser's child would permanently tie her to the abuser (via the child), but I'm not sure that carries the same weight.

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Abortion, Criminal; Abortion, Induced; Minors/legislation and jurisprudence; Parental Consent; Parental Notification; Personal Autonomy; Reproductive Rights
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