Leman wrong about parental consent

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2005

By offering platitudes such as, "Our children had to have authorization from me to get an aspirin from their school nurse" Lt. Gov. Leman ignores several important aspects of the parental consent debate (My Turn: "Parents trumped in abortion decision," May 16).

A parent might, with good reason, believe their young daughter is too immature to bear and raise a child, but that decision legally belongs to the girl. Parents cannot compel their minor daughter to either have an abortion or to relinquish her child for adoption. Those choices are hers alone.

Parental consent also raises the odd specter of an adolescent girl, denied the right to make her own decision about abortion, now being a parent herself of an infant, and solely responsible for medical decisions for that baby.

Where is the moral high ground in forcing young women to have babies they don't want and can't care for? If we truly value children and recognize the tremendous sacrifice and effort it takes to raise them, we won't impose mandatory motherhood as a punishment for girls who accidentally get pregnant.

Of course it would be good if young women would involve their parents in these decisions, and the majority of teens do. Neither are most parents anxious to force their young daughters to have babies. But when a young woman feels she cannot talk with her parents, legislating family communication is doomed to failure.

As for safety, the lieutenant governor conveniently forgets that childbirth is a far riskier undertaking than a first-trimester abortion. No, parental consent arguments are not about the safety of the girl, they are about outsiders imposing their moral values on others.

Cindy Fine

Spokane, Wash.

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