Friday, November 18, 2005

Parental Issues

Well, I've had my sickness induced raunchy fun this week, but it's time to turn to the serious. With all of the Supreme Court nominations and talk these days the abortion issue has become hot again. I don't think that anything I, or anyone else, says is going to make any difference to 95% of the people who have decided one way or the other. The only thing that will change most people's minds on this issue is experience. That being said, I'm still going to say my piece.

When I was much younger and the hypothetical possibility of an unplanned pregnancy was real I was 'pro-choice'. I didn't want anyone telling me what I could do with my body. I was young and selfish and impetuous in my views of the world and how I fit into it. Parental consent was an unknown term to me. If I was going to do something, I was going to do it, usually without my parents knowing anything about it. I never got into any kind of trouble when I was a teenager. I didn't drink or do drugs, but I did like sex. But as far as my parents knew I was still a virginal innocent when I went off to college. At the age of 17 and a half I had a pregnancy scare that they never had a clue about. (I hope my dad never reads this.) I went to one of those pregnancy crisis centers for a free test which they told me was positive. They made me sit through a couple of scary anti-abortion videos before I left. My boyfriend gave me the money for an abortion, and I was 98% sure I was going to go through with it. That other 2% was my conscience telling me that I really didn't want to kill a baby. I was thinking that maybe I could go live with my grandmother in tiny, rural Wartburg, TN, to finish school and have the baby (this was a time when it was still mostly unheard of for pregnant girls to be in school because of the stigma of being an unwed mother; some places even kicked pregnant girls out of school). Well, as it turned out, I wasn't really pregnant and got my period a couple of days later. I suspect that the pregnancy center lied to me about the positive result to put a good scare into me. I gave my boyfriend the money back, and we broke up shortly after that.

My views throughout college remained much the same. I never had another pregnancy scare though. And a couple of girls at college got pregnant and rebelliously decided to be single moms. I say 'rebelliously' because it was still not considered 'appropriate' for young, educated women to have babies out of wedlock. But you have to give them the credit of having the courage to face the consequences of their behavior and not taking the easy way out by having an abortion. In some small way their willingness to accept their responsibilities began my turn to my current position.

This is getting long and away from where I was intending to go, so I'll jump back to my main subject of parental issues.

This morning on FoxNews they were talking about the 'parental consent' issue with abortion. How can anyone argue against parental consent? Oh, there was a guy (sorry I don't remember who) that was throwing around 'incest' and 'abuse' and other inflammatory words to suggest that parental consent laws would put some girls in danger. Bah Humbug! There are already plenty of laws and agencies out there that are supposed to deal with those issues. My problem with these idiots, like this guy, who say that parental consent laws infringe on someone's rights is that they are really the ones who are hurting kids and parents. He even said, when asked 'what about a 14 year old', that well, yeah, that's different from a 17 and a half year old. Excuse me? Do we sell cigarettes to 17.5 year olds or let them vote, just because they are 'practically' 18? NO! I HATE that kind of inconsistency.

Now let me jump over to another subject that is related in some ways. That 18 year old boy who killed his 14 year old girlfriend's parents apparently grew up in a home full of guns. All of the Second Amendment haters are going to jump all over that, and some will probably try to insist that his parents be held in some way responsible for what happened. Bullshit. The dude is 18. The same people who are against parental consent for abortions are all for blaming parents for their child using a gun in a crime. Even when that child is legally an adult.

Okay, so this is what's wrong. By denying parents the power to decide what kind of medical treatment their daughter can get these 'liberals' are setting up a very slippery slope of taking away what parental authority and/or responsibility there is left. If my child breaks his arm at school they have to have my consent to have it treated. We have to sign papers at the beginning of every school year giving our consent for the school to act in an emergency. You'd think that would be common sense, but in today's litigious environment we have to sign papers for everything for our own and for the school's legal protection. If the doctors have to have my consent to fix a broken arm, they better damn well have to have my consent to do any other kind of medical procedure, including an abortion.

Saying that my 17.5 year old daughter is exempt from getting my consent for an abortion but not for getting her broken arm fixed is ridiculous. These people can't have it both ways. If you take away the parents' rights then you can't turn around and blame them for the problems that their kids get into. You just can't have it both ways. It's just like with the death penalty. To most liberals it's quite alright for a women to kill a baby in her body just because it is inconvenient for her to have it, but it's morally wrong to execute a murderer, even a child murderer like that Smith guy in Florida. PEOPLE!! Get it straight. Be consistent. Make sense.

(The point of my sharing my pregnancy scare story was to show that I know exactly how teenage girls think about this issue. They don't want to face the serious consequences of their actions. They want to take the easiest way out. They don't want to have to tell their parents that they are in trouble. I know that. I've been there. But I also know that their reasoning is flawed and immature, and that's why they are still considered children and under the 'control' of their parents.)


Kat said...

That was a great post! There are so many inconsistencies with our government. It's ridiculous.

Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

11 18 05

Rae Ann:
You just laid down the law didn't you? I will put this on the update section of the current post NOW! YOu said it and I could not have said it better. Thx for the sense you add to our world!

DHammett said...

Amen, sister. Very well done.

Rae Ann said...

kat, thanks! I must have been fired up yesterday. lol

mahndisa, thanks! Sometimes I wonder if I make any sense.

dh, thanks! I just noticed a typo this morning. I hate when I miss those before posting.

mr_g said...

Rae Ann, Your logic is very good and your argument makes a lot of sense. However, I'm going to be the liberal wacko who disagrees with you here. Should kids make better decisions before having sex? Sure. Is abortion, in my opinion, a good form of birth control? Absolutely not. Should we reward people for making bad decisions? No. Do parents have a right to know what medical care their children have? In general, yes.

But my issue with the parent consent thing is this: A parent can force a teen to have a child by not allowing an abortion. There are enough teenage mothers unable to care for their children now, that forcing more to become that way to me is uncontionable. You may say, so is killing a baby. And to that I answer, not when you do it early enough and you're just killing cells. And you won't change my opinion there!

Hell, I don't even mind paying for the abortion with tax dollars. It's a lot cheaper than paying for foster care for 18 years if that mother can't handle it.

I'm tired of paying for the special services these kids need for the 18 years of childhood because they were born to teenage mothers ill-equiped to handle them. I've taught these children, and I've seen firsthand the insanity of children trying to raise children. And God help them if they end up in foster care! Everybody pays in the long run and I'm not just talking about money.

I fear for the back-alley abortions that will undoubtedly take the lives of young girls afraid to tell their parents. Parental Consent for abortions is one more attempt by Conservatives to move us back to the 1950's when everyone liked Ike and life was "swell". I'm sorry Rae Ann, though I respect your right to know what's going on with your kids, I draw the line at laws that allow a teenage girl to be forced to become a mother or creating a system where a coat hanger is her only option.

I'm sure I'll hear it from you and Hammett on this, but I gotta be true to my beliefs here, as unpopular as they may be!

Rae Ann said...

mr g, speaking as the mother of a daughter (though I would feel the same if one of my sons got a teenage girl pregnant), I have to strongly disagree that it is not up to me to decide if someone is going to do an invasive procedure on her without my consent. Along with the consent is an implied responsibility. I was trying to get at that point but left it a little incomplete. If parents refuse to allow their daughter to have an abortion I do believe that they should be responsiblle for helping her raise the baby or put it into a proper home. After all, if a 17 year old is still legally my child it seems that her child would also be legally my responsibility. I realize that is going into another sticky legal area, but that is consistent with this line of reasoning. And consistency in thought was one of my points of the post.

I love your input whether you agree or not.

Oh, and another issue here is the father's rights. After all, the embryo is half his. I don't think we can fairly eliminate his interests in this. By giving the girl total control over the embryo we are denying the father any claim to something that can't rationally be argued isn't half his. Part of my interest in maintaining rights is that they are protected for everyone. Why don't we ever hear about the ACLU suing on the behalf of a young father who wants his baby instead of allowing it to be aborted?

mr_g said...

I'd agree with your last comment if the reverse was true. Suppose a girl wants to keep the baby but the guy doesn't feel he's ready to be a father and doesn't want any part of it. He should be exempt from support and the girl should be on the hook for it all right?

Fortunately or Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way on either side. Support is based on what's best for the child. A requirement of parental consent is not. It supposes as to what's best for the pregnant girl, but cares nothing about the fetus and what happens to it when it becomes a baby. Even if the parents agree to raise the child, you've now forced a teenager to go through labor and have the baby. NOBODY, regardless of age, should be forced to have a child. Children make stupid choices and choices should have consequences for them. However, those consequences shouldn't punish innocent children by forcing them to start life with less of a chance.

I totally get your desire to know and approve (or disapprove) or medical treatment for your child. However, I believe this is the exception to the rule. To punish a child's poor choice by forcing her to endure pregnancy and childbirth - when other options exist - is, in my opinion, wrong. To bring an unwanted child into this world is also wrong, though unfortunately it happens way too often. If you need to see examples of what I mean, take a trip down to your local Child and Family services office and just observe like a fly on a wall.

Anytime I start feeling bummed about our not being able to have kids, I go somewhere like that and I feel a whole lot better about my situation.

SacramentoVoice said...

Boy good to see how much love Mr G, a man in the education industry has for unwanted kids. I have two questions for you, when would you say that group of cells becomes a fetus? And how much less should we be spending on an unwanted child for it to be economically viable enough, that you to think they are worth having a life.

And to Rae Ann thank you for the truly great post.

Mike said...

You said it best! Great Blog

mr_g said...

Todd: Like many conservatives, you seem to miss the point and go for sensationalizing your own version of what was said in the form of a personal attack. So if you'll stop putting your "Spin Stops Here" sticker on your car for a minute I'll explain.

Personally, I'd love to see more of our tax dollars go to help unwanted kids and other who need our help than to help the likes of Halliburton get rich - topic for another day. What my comment meant was that I hate having to pay for unwanted children; for the mistakes of others. However, if the kids are here, I think we should do everything we can. I have lots of symapthy for the underdog!

As for your fetus question, there is a biological point...though neither being a scientist nor being someone who is up on these things, I can't tell you when that is exactly. I think there are legal definitions of when abortion can and can't take place...even if they differ by region.

Point is, in the early stages it's cells. That's called the "potential for life". Much like dough is potential for bread. Just because you've mixed the ingredients and formed it into a loaf, it's not bread until it's spent some time in the oven!

As for your last question, I'm not sure how to answer that. What do you want, a dollar amount? The idea is that we shouln't have to have any more unwanted children than necessary if we have the means to avoid it. If you or anyone takes this to mean I'm advocating abortion as a form of birth control, you misread me.

A woman's right to chose is at stake. We've already lost rights under the "Patriot Act"...reminds me of "Peacekeeper Missle"... that the bill of rights should be renamed the "bill of exceptions according to people who want to protect us from ourselves instead of worry about running the country". The parental consent rule is one more step toward eroding that right and more of our rights to come. It also will put many young girls in danger as they seek "alternate methods" to solve their problem. That's why the "no parental contact required" laws were originally passed anyhow!

Rae Ann said...

todd, thanks for your compliment!

mike, thanks too!

mr g, one problem with your argument against parental consent is that you're assuming that 'consent' actually means 'non-consent'. My argument for parental consent centers on the parents' rights to do what's in the best interest of their child. And that, I believe dearly, is a 'right of privacy' issue as much as any other. See, I consider myself conservative in most of my views, but I try to be consistent in how I apply them to various situations. It seems very lop-sided to me that you give the 'right of privacy' to one group but not another. The point of laws is to arbitrate between competing interests. Is this teenage girl's right to privacy greater than her parents' legal responsibilities/rights to care for her until she is an adult? What I'm trying to get at is that we have to be very careful about giving a woman the 'right to choose' over someone else's rights. As far as 'forcing' a girl to have a baby, I think that would be more uncommon than you are suggesting. I think most parents just want to have their rights protected so that they can protect their children the way they see fit (an issue of 'privacy', IMHO).

And btw, I've written elsewhere what I believe about the beginning of 'life'. But that isn't really what I'm talking about here, which is wanting to protect my rights as a parent.

mr_g said...

Rae Ann - I'm not assuming YOU mean parental consent is no consent. But you don't speak for other parents. As a teacher, (and relative) I've seen people who shouldn't have kids churning them out and giving them little to poor guidance. I've also seen these kids afraid to tell their parents things far less serious than pregnancy. THAT is why the "no consent required" laws came into being. It's to protect these girls from potentially abusive situations and to allow them to handle their pregnancy on their own terms.

I totally undestand your point about wanting a say in what's best for your child. But I DO believe the risk to these girls outweighs that right. As yourself this: Which of these two choices would you hope your daughter makes (hopefully never has to, but you get theidea)...

1. Abortion in a clinic without telling you.

2. Abortion in someone's garage. You find out about this from the ER when they call because she was brought in hemmoraging from a botched procedure from someone who didn't know what the hell he was doing because she had an irrational teenage fear of telling you.

Personally, I think THAT's the issue.

And thanks for letting all ideas be freely expressed here. You're nicer to your readers than I might be! :)

madman said...

Abortion is the toughest issue of our time. First I would like to say that the Clinic that lied to you should be burned to the ground.

My oppinion is subjective and probably not popular---but I dis-agree with both you and Mr.G.

I once saw some parents beat a 14 year old girl and then throw her out in the cold because she was pregnant. I also read about some Pakistan immigrants in Chicago who killed their own daughter when they discovered the news. Sometimes parents can't handle the truth. Medical treatment that we may disagree with is better than the death penalty for these girls.

When Mr.G stated the Government should help pay for the procedure--it made me cringe. As you know --the Government is the people, and when so many people detest this procedure--it is a slap in the face to ask them to pay for it--cheaper in the long run or not.

On a personal level---between my wife and I we have 21 prescribtion drugs we have to fill. Our CO-PAY is now up to $80.00 a month for each med! The Government isn't offering to help me!

DHammett said...

Sorry I came late to this party. Three quick thoughts, Mr. G...

If a young lady makes a bad decision to negatively impact her life, which ultimately results in her pregnancy, you're saying she should be given the opportunity to make another life decision that impacts not only her, but another life as well?

Second, it's a pretty bleak outlook for someone in the education field to talk about the hopelessness of bringing another life into the world. It's your charge to ensure every child has hope. If you can't at least try to do that, perhaps you're in the wrong profession.

Finally, don't get me started about the Patriot Act. As someone who has actually worked with the act and is familiar with its provisions and how it operates, you're dead wrong about people losing rights under it. But, that's another topic for another time.

DHammett said...

Madman -

I'm sure each of us could come up with a horror story or two on any topic we choose. Just because bad things happen doesn't mean government should implement policy that's poorly thought out. For every bad outcome that you or Mr. G. cite, there are thousands of instances where parental notification is the better option. Children of minority age do not have the wisdom to make the kinds of decisions that you are contemplating entrusting them with. And they've already proven it by making bad decisions to lead them to that point.

madman said...


I get the feeling you would be for any legislation that would limit or prohibit abortion. True or False?

DHammett said...

Madman -

Limit, yes. Prohibit, no. I realize there are exceptional circumstances, and I have a hard time with abortion as an absolute. For example, partial birth abortions I would outlaw. To save the life of the mother would be one of those exceptional circumstances. But I certainly do not believe the government ought to be paying for them.

Rae Ann said...

mr g, thanks for all your thoughtful comments. I do appreciate a good exchange of ideas and try to encourage them to be civil and nice. I see no point in mud-slinging on either side. It just clouds everyone's minds too much. As for your question, if I had to choose one I'd say a clinic w/o my consent, BUT I'm hoping that I'm raising my children to be able to talk to me about stuff before they make such huge decisions. I don't think I'm in a minority of parents. I know lots of parents like me who are trying to raise responsible, thoughtful people. Yes, there are plenty of deadbeats out there, but I don't think we should structure our society and laws to their needs over mine. See, this whole thing, to me, centers around MY rights being limited. I'm a taxpayer and help support this country so I shouldn't have to surrender my rights for the rights of some deadbeats.

dh, thanks for joining the party!

madman, I agree with you about the government not having to pay for abortions. I also agree with DHammett about the legality of abortion. I'm not for banning abortion, but I am for limiting it and definitely for parental consent. Abusive/neglectful parents are the bane of society, but there are already many laws and agencies available to deal with them. Don't take away all parents' rights just because a few are shit. And that sucks about your medical expenses. Healthcare is in crisis in many ways, but I don't think that government health insurance is the answer. That's a future post.

One of my main points here has been that our society seems to be trying to limit parents' rights, yet it asks why everything is going to hell. Look at how things have changed over the last 30 years.

Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

Not once while blogging have I discussed my views on abortion, perhaps due to mixed emotions and close connections to personal/friend's experiences from late teens and how I feel now. However, I do not believe in partial birth abortion or government funded. I agree parents should be informed and consent unless it is one of the rare situations (small number) as mentioned above as well as the father of the child knowing. Based on that small number of cases, I don't think the law should allow children to make these decisions on their own.

As far as other parental authority, it is dwindling quickly and that concerns me deeply. It is ridiculous, as you pointed out, about an injury for medical treatment in a school, but now children can refuse their parent's guidance i.e. refusing church attendance, household rules, home/public school, divorcing their parents, etc. The courts are allowing more rights for children to rule their parents more than the other way around. I am glad mine are grown now. I was firm in their upbringing however we had a special open communication, but I never allowed them to think that they ruled me...and I see our country headed in that direction. Very disturbing...esp. where the Secularist come in to brain wash them even more i.e. schools, courts, etc.

I disagree somewhat about the child 18 killing the 14yr's parents.. (I'm not in that same group U mentioned)I feel there is a small percentage of blame that should be put on the parents-he had prior acts as well. To me there has to be a small area there where this child was spoiled and some problems occurred somewhere for the parents not to have a bit of the responsibility...if not getting treatment for him or not know an inkling of a problem w/him prior to him turning 18. Don't you think they ignored or allowed him to react as he wished? Surely the parents recognized there was some problem brewing! The news named at least 6 serial killers that had killed animals in their childhood...Dahmer's parents were psychologists, still ignored his evilness. Recently I have been reading a great deal about this case...also this boy's websites and his over-indulgence of everything he wanted and more. Very spoiled! I may not be consistent myself in my beliefs, but this is how I feel on a part of these issues.
Great Post Rae Ann!!