Thursday, July 1, 2010

13 year old girl performs abortion with a pencil

So many things wrong in this news story: in Pennsylvania, a state requiring parental consent for abortions, a 13 year old girl pregnant by her 30 year old "boyfriend" attempts to perform an abortion with a pencil, goes into labor, boyfriend buries the stillbirth or baby in a plastic shopping bag in the woods, and girl goes into hospital.

Things wrong:
1. Sexual coercion of minors often happens in families where parents just aren't paying attention. Parents are so out of the picture here that this 30 year old "boyfriend" has been with this girl for 1 year.
2. Even in the best of cases, adolescents have undeveloped judgement. Where teens will not involve their parents, doctors are the next best alternative. Not allowing doctors as an alternative, teens turn to their own judgement. Adolescents' brains aren't fully developed, so they may not see consequences of their actions.
3. Shady characters like pedophiles have poor judgement. This fellow may even be a murderer if baby was born alive, and yet the boyfriend is the only adult acting in this story. A legal abortion would involve doctors and nurses.
4. Finally and most importantly, illegal abortions are dangerous. On top of the trauma of pregnancy which is usually unsafe for a 13 year old, she had to be hospitalized.

Laws have to work at the borderlines. Most pregnant minors are 17 or so, many parents are supportive, and most teens tell their parents about their pregnancies, but 12 year olds do have sex and get pregnant, and often it's in crazy cases like this where the parents are just not paying attention. In my 8th grade class of 70 children in the best-funded school district in Illinois (at the time), we had 1 pregnant girl, and same in the year before us class of 60 children, a pregnancy rate of about 3% for those two years.

In Utah, a similar case of a woman asking to be attacked in order to induce abortion created a new anti-abortion law.

Could this case possibly cause Pennsylvania to alter its abortion laws so that parental consent was no longer required? I wish, but somehow it seems unlikely.

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