By Nancy Flanders
A recent article from NPR laments that judicial bypass laws allowing teens to get abortions without their parents’ knowledge or consent may “disappear completely” in pro-life states if Roe v. Wade is overturned. In reality, the end of judicial bypass laws for abortion would be a good thing.
“Teens can’t travel as easily as adults can, especially if they’re keeping their pregnancy confidential. They have to explain missing school, missing work, being away from home for a day or two,” says Rosann Mariappuram, executive director of Jane’s Due Process, an organization that helps teenagers navigate judicial bypass and travel across state lines for secret abortions. She’s concerned that teens in pro-life states will have to get to pro-abortion states without parental consent laws in order to undergo abortions. She said that since teens can’t vote, they don’t have the ability to stand up to legislators.
“Because minors are often vulnerable in the sense that they can’t vote, [and] they often don’t have voices at the legislature, it will continue to be that anti-abortion lawmakers try to attack judicial bypass,” she said.
But the same reasoning behind why minors can’t vote is the same reasoning that says abortion without parental consent or knowledge is a bad idea. Research has shown that the human brain continues to mature and develop into early adulthood. In fact, the frontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls reasoning and allows us to think before we act, is the part of the brain that is not fully developed until well after the teenage years.
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the brains of teenagers work differently than the brains of adults when making decisions or solving problems. Teens’ decision-making processes are led by emotions rather than logic. Teens are therefore more likely to act on impulse and engage in risky behaviors while they are also less likely to think before they act or consider the consequences of their actions. The range of emotions any teenage girl would be feeling when learning she is pregnant could be enough to lead her to an abortion she doesn’t want in order to keep a secret from the parents who may have supported her in giving birth to her child.
Abortion proponents know that if teens talk to their parents, there is the potential to lose abortion clients. It’s the reason Planned Parenthood has dedicated itself to “educating” children on sex — getting teens to see their parents as less of an authority figure on matters of sex helps to create contraception clients, STD testing and treatment clients, and, ultimately, abortion clients. Placing themselves between parents and children is strictly a business tactic.
Minors generally need parental consent for taking medications and undergoing medical treatments because parents and legal guardians have the primary legal authority to make health decisions for their children. This isn’t exclusive to abortion. They also need permission to leave school property during school hours and in many states need permission to get a tattoo or a piercing. Abortion procedures are far riskier to a teen’s physical and mental health than a tattoo.
Parental consent laws allow vulnerable teens — children — to turn to their parents for support before they undergo a risky abortion procedure — exactly what the abortion industry doesn’t want.