All children deserve to be protected from danger, from threats and from harm. When a young girl is faced with an unexpected pregnancy, to whom does she turn? The abuser? The boyfriend? A clinic? Shouldn't her parents be given the opportunity to protect her, care for her and support her?
Rather than being part of a young woman's life plan, abortions are often sought out of a perceived need for self-preservation. Far from being an exercise in liberation, abortion is the response of a young woman who's alone, afraid and caught in unexpected circumstances. As feminist author Frederica Mathewes-Green once said, “A woman doesn't want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche, but rather like an animal caught in a trap who gnaws off its own leg.”
Abortion always carries a risk. It can cause serious physical complications as well as psychological difficulties, including depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders. According to the medical data, physical risks can include uterine perforation and scarring, infection, undetected ectopic pregnancy, organ damage and increased risk of breast cancer. Abortion can affect subsequent pregnacies with placenta previa and preterm delivery. And in some cases, the abortion procedure leads to the woman's death.
The Oklahoma Senate is considering changes to the state's parental consent policy. This will further increase a parent's ability to intervene when his or her minor daughter is faced with an unexpected pregnancy. It requires the parent or legal guardian to consent to the procedure. House Bill 1361, the Parental Consent Enhancements Bill, has passed in the House 81-13. This legislation protects young girls from abusers who may be using abortion to cover sexual crimes. Moreover, it lets parents and legal guardians take part in a very serious decision that could affect a girl for the rest of her life.
Parental consent laws have a dramatic impact on the abortion rate in America. States enacting parental consent laws see abortion rates fall by 18.7 percent on average, according to research by Dr. Michael J. New of Michigan State University. Currently, 37 states require some form of parental involvement in a minor's abortion decision. Moreover, according to a 2009 Pew Research poll, 71 percent of Americans favor parental consent laws. And as the sentiments change among the people, we have and will continue to see changes in the law.
Yoest is president and CEO of Americans United for Life. McConchie is AUL's vice president of government affairs.