Last week, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that teenage girls can obtain abortions without parental consent, and immediately Gov. Sarah Palin instructed an attorney general to file a petition for a rehearing. Can't we avoid another 10-year lawsuit and instead work to make Alaska a better place for children and mothers?
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Unintended pregnancies happen. If we don't want teenagers to get pregnant or have abortions without telling a parent, then parents, schools, and churches need to allow and encourage open dialog about sex and what happens if you have sex. If it's not such a taboo, then maybe teenagers won't be afraid to tell their parents when they have sex and ask for advice, birth control or emergency contraception before it's too late. If the teen is in an unsafe or unsupportive home environment, then she will know someone outside of her home to go to for help.
Instead of another lawsuit over parental consent, Palin should work with state lawmakers to mandate statewide middle through high school reproductive health classes. It has been proven around the world that the best way to reduce unwanted pregnancies is to educate people about birth control and make it affordable and accessible. Despite this well-known fact, the Juneau School Board allows parents to "opt out" and prevent their children from attending reproductive health classes. How do we expect pregnant teenagers to tell their parents they are pregnant when their parents won't even let them attend a class on reproductive health?
Let's move forward on this issue, not backwards. We need to provide children accurate information about reproductive health. Objective reproductive health classes in our schools will help reduce teen pregnancy rates, and free child care for students who do get pregnant will give mothers equal access to education and careers.