10 October 2013

Teenagers and Abortion

I work at Planned Parenthood. When there's something about our services that I don't know enough about to answer questions about it, I do research. Sometimes, I get questions from teenagers about pregnancy options, including abortions.

First of all, let's get this out of the way: (some) teens have sex. Some of them get on birth control, some don't. Some use condoms, some don't. Some of those condoms break. Some teens are raped. Some get pregnant. Some decide to become teen parents. Some put their child up for adoption. Some decide to get an abortion.

The problem with Pennsylvania is that teens need a parent's permission to get an abortion here. While some parents have no problem giving this permission, some will not grant it. Furthermore, some teens are too scared to ask their parents, or they don't want their parents to know that they're pregnant (or even that they're having sex). Those that can't or won't get permission from their parents have one more option: to get a judicial bypass.

The teen seeking an abortion can "bypass" her parents by meeting with a judge, who can give the permission necessary for the procedure. The judge asks questions to decide if the teen is mature enough to make her own decision about getting an abortion. If she is not deemed mature enough, then the judge has to decide if an abortion would be in her best interest.

Although it seems to be uncommon, the judge can deny the teen permission. Here's an article about a case in Pittsburgh where that happened: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/teen-rights-to-abortion-in-dispute-285291/. In 2010, "Jane Doe" went to a judge for permission to get an abortion, and she was denied. According to the article:

"After questioning her for more than an hour, the judge decided that she couldn't have the abortion, ruling she was not mature and capable of making an informed decision about the procedure."

Forgive my language, but: What. The. Fuck.

A 17-year-old young woman is not mature enough to make an informed decision about what to do with her own body? Even though she has to watch an informed consent video at least 24 hours before her procedure (by PA law). I call Bullshit.

If this young woman is not mature enough to get informed consent and decide to get a medical procedure that is arguably safer than nine months of pregnancy and childbirth (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/23/us-abortion-idUSTRE80M2BS20120123), then how the hell is she mature enough to take care of herself and a developing fetus, handle the stress of pregnancy and childbirth, and then parent or put a child up for adoption? That was a rhetorical question.

Like other backwards states (i.e. Texas and Mississippi), Pennsylvania is making it more and more difficult for women to get an abortion. If lawmakers could overturn Roe v. Wade, I believe that they absolutely would. Politicians would love to control every aspect of women's reproductive lives, and we cannot let them do that. If you do nothing else, at least pay attention to what's going on around you. This is not an isolated incident.

Sources/further reading:

Obviously, I'm writing this on my personal blog, and my opinions in this and other posts are my own, and should not be seen as representative of Planned Parenthood Keystone or Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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