A parent’s rights? Abortion notification for under 18s is before the Court


The Supremes’ new lineup began their first big gig last week. They’re tackling the abortion issue, though not exactly head-on and certainly not in the way that pro-lifers would like.

At issue is a New Hampshire law that requires girls under the age of 18 to obtain parental consent before having an abortion.

It’s the first time the Supreme Court, which has remained unchanged for the last 11 years, will hear a case regarding the abortion issue with newly-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts on the bench, and many see the case as a watershed that will foretell the direction the court as they forge national policy regarding a woman’s right to choose.

Some among the pro-choice faction, particularly, feel that if the New Hampshire law is upheld the decision will undermine Roe v. Wade and lay groundwork for an eventual overturning of the law that allows women the right to legal abortions in this country.

We don’t see it that way.

The issue of the right to have an abortion has a solid foundation in the 1973 ruling. Discussion of the nuances of the law does not constitute a willingness to overturn that law.

The case is a concern because the law in question, the New Hampshire Parental Notification Prior to Abortion Act, is flawed in that it has very narrow provisions for exceptions to the rule. But while we do see that there are situations where parental notification should be circumvented, in general we think it is a good idea.

The issue here is not a woman’s right to choose; it is not an obstacle to safe and legal abortions nor is it the legality of abortions for the young and pregnant ‘— it is simply one of math. A female of the species under 18 years of age is not a woman: she is a girl, and a minor as defined by law.

Parental consent is required before a minor undergoes any surgical procedure ‘— a nose job or an appendectomy or even certain piercings. An abortion is a complicated medical procedure and parents should be aware, on hand even, if the family makes that choice.

And there are many choices that we do not allow minors to make for themselves, primarily because we as a society feel that minors in general lack the maturity and benefit of experience to make informed decisions on weighty matters. In a perfect dynamic, that’s what parents are there for. And we believe that the overwhelming majority of parents truly love their children and have their best interests at heart. Most daughters in this situation have little to fear from their parents, and it is times like these that they are in dire need of counsel from the ones who love them most.

On top of that, three staffers here at the magazine have young daughters. To a one they would like to be informed if their daughters were considering the termination of a pregnancy. We do acknowledge that there should be certain exemptions to the Parental Notification Act. But we hold that minors be treated as such, even in regards to the abortion issue.