By Ingrid Duran, Director, NRLC Department of State Legislation
Editor’s note. Last Thursday we posted a story I wrote headlined, “Small study trashes judicial bypass as a ‘form of punishment’ to teens seeking abortions.” The whole point of the study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, was to persuade the reader that this tiny study of self-selected teens “proved” the terribleness of involvement parents in the abortion decision of their minor daughter, specifically judicial bypass/waivers. I asked Ingrid Duran, who obviously knows much, much more than I do about state legislation, to comment.
There are currently thirty-one states with parental involvement laws that are in effect.
A typical law requires abortion facilities to either notify or get consent from the minor’s parents or legal guardian prior to her obtaining an abortion. But all of these laws must have an option for a judicial bypass/waiver, if the minor feels she cannot tell her parents or if she feels that she is sufficiently mature enough to get this abortion without her parent’s knowledge.
Opinion polls since 1992 have demonstrated the public’s warm support for these common sense protective laws. They understand that parents know more about their children than anyone.
Moreover, research has consistently demonstrated the positive impact state parental involvement law have. For example, a study, released in September 2008 for Family Research Council’s Insight magazine indicated that the parental-involvement laws reduce the minor abortion rate by 13% — a finding that is consistent with other research on the subject.
Last week Reuters Health posted an article in the Journal of Adolescent Health based on a study purporting to show that the judicial bypass in the Texas parental involvement law causes emotional harm to minors. This is not a new argument. It is a recycled myth dressed up with academic flourishes which the pro-abortion lobby trots out when it is seeking to discredit any life-affirming protective law.
But it is easy to understand why the pro-abortion authors are [re-]weaving their tale of woe. For forever, the pro-abortion lobby has painted abortion as not only physically safe for the mother but have also denied that abortion causes psychological or emotional harm.
Women who have regretted their abortions and who have been brave enough to share their stories about their abortion-related trauma are not likely going to show up in the pro-abortion lobby’s “Shout Your Abortion” campaign. Consider the irony, which would be almost laughable if it weren’t so deadly serious.
A minor goes before a judge to get the judicial waiver in order to get a secret abortion and (we’re told) this causes emotional harm. Yet to have the abortion and keep this secret from the people who love her most does not. Does that make any sense?
The “study” is methodologically flawed by its very small sample size (a mere 20) and ethically marred because the young women were cherry-picked in order to fit the narrative of what they wanted their research to “prove.”
Note as well that the researchers either work for or are directly affiliated with the local organization, Jane’s Due Process. What is its mission? To coach minor girls who are seeking the judicial waiver so that they can get their secret abortion. One of the researchers also has ties with NARAL and Planned Parenthood.
The study, “Young Women’s Experiences Obtaining Judicial Bypass for Abortion in Texas,” asserts that some of these minors were afraid of risking their safety, even though the Texas law specifically provides for the reporting of any kind of abuse. This mechanism is there in order to protect the minor. If the pro-abortion lobby had it their way, they would get the minor her secret abortion and keep her in the same exact situation where her safety is said to be in jeopardy.
Another claim from Coleman-Minahan, Stevenson, Obront, and Hays is that these young girls were afraid of disappointing their parents or causing a conflict that would damage their relationship with their parents. We were all young, the last thing we want to do is disappoint our parents. The way that most teenagers seek to avoid this is by lying or not telling their parents about anything that would cause a disruption in their relationship. However a minor’s pregnancy and whether or not she is going to seek an abortion or carry her baby to term is a crucial life experience and something that really requires her parent(s) to be involved in.
Also there is a significant and ever-growing body of research indicating what all parents already know: that when it comes to decision making, the adolescent brain is still immature.
Who of us cannot think of a time in response to something we had done when our parents may have said something in anger or jest. It is intended to get the teenager’s attention (no small feat) to deter the minor from engaging in whatever behavior the parent is trying to warn him or her of.
In the abortion context, naturally an unexpected pregnancy is a huge shock to parents. Just because the adolescent mind does not understand that parental shock, which is real, will give way to understanding and acceptance does not make it right to disregard parental rights.
A second irony. Judicial waivers nationwide have always been used largely as a rubber stamp in order for these girls to get their abortions without parental knowledge.
In 2016, Texas started reporting the number of judicial bypasses requested, granted, and denied. In 2017 there were 90% were granted.
So this picture that the researchers are trying to paint as the judicial bypass being burdensome and emotional traumatizing are just trigger words in order to get the public to believe that not involving parents during a critical time of a girl’s life is what would be best.
The mission of the pro-abortion lobby—abortion on demand– is threatened any time a woman or a minor child gets a chance to hear a voice that not preaching death to the unborn child.