PART V: An In-Depth Look into Parental Notification/Consent Laws for Teen Abortions
A Recap on Parental Consent/Notification Laws
Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV of this article series mainly studied key concepts of parental consent or notification laws. They also displayed possible scenarios in which certain minors in certain states where the law is more stringent may cause more harm than good for female teens seeking to reverse pregnancies without having to involve their parents. Though arguments have been made about safety whether for and against parental consent or notification, it is not known for sure to what extent these laws truly protect or harm teens.
What is known is that some states firmly believe that parental notification or consent laws allow parents to be involved in a minor's decision to have abortion which is oddly coupled with the fact that minors in healthy family situations already tend to involve their parents, especially their mothers. So why is it that these laws are so common across the majority of states in the America when this law seems to primarily only affect broken households or families where there is a lack of healthy communication?
A Call for More Research
After researching and examining the advantages and disadvantages regarding the parental consent and notification laws to terminate a minor's pregnancy, it is clear that there is still much more to be researched on the matter.
Other than clear statistics outlining abuse from a parent/guardian who retaliates against the minor for terminating a pregnancy is abundant in literature, there are not many exact accounts of the affects parental consent and notification laws have on minors. To another great extent, there is major concern over the delay in reproductive care caused by waiting periods and traversing the bureaucratic judicial system, yet there are no clear findings that concretely outline actual cases where minors were not given proper care or forced to carry the pregnancy to term because these aspects of the law stood in the way.
Though weighing the consequences and benefits of aspects of these laws such as mandatory waiting periods, judicial bypass and mediating abuse situations has revealed that overall, these laws place a major delay on female minors seeking to receive reproductive care, there is no current literature that looks at the long term repercussions of these laws.
In order to truly understand the impact of these laws and deliberate on their merit, much more needs to be studied. With parental consent and notification laws beginning enactment as early as 1976, not many generations have experienced the magnitude these laws may have on family, economics, education and overall health and happiness. Below are key questions that evoke more research on the matter which would involve a comprehensive longitudinal study in which female teens affected by these laws would need to have data consistently collected on them throughout their lifetime, as well as the lifetime of any children they birth.
How are children born from female minors who were not able to get consent or judges pardon faring in today's world in terms of education, marital status, employment and overall happiness?
Of female minors who sought to terminate any pregnancies how many of them faced disagreement with their parents/guardians because of a difference of believe on terminating pregnancies versus parents/guardians in agreement and overall concerned for the minors safety?
To what extent do minors seeking abortions who are apprehensive about involving parents/guardians seek to circumvent the law and take matters into their own hands?
To what extent are minors seeking abortions dealing with having to involve family member who is also the culprit of sexual/physical or mental abuse? How well does the law, i.e., social services and judicial bypass effective in mediating these situations?
Changing the Voting Age
Should Minors of a Certain Age be Allowed to Vote?
Conclusion and Questions on Minor Sovereignty
Although more states have parental consent laws than ones that don't, it's easy to conclude and say the majority agree so they must be right. The two largest concerns, however, come down to the minor receiving timely treatment for terminating a pregnancy and the ability to make the decision herself despite her parents or legal guardians opinions.
When it comes to a minor's overall safety, physical and emotional well-being, are parental consent laws worsening the pregnant minors' situations considering the time it takes to receive judicial bypass followed by possible waiting periods and the varying ease on traveling to court and to the abortion clinic itself? Is it fair to use “maturity” as a way for a judge to decide if the minor has the capacity to make a reproductive decision herself or be able to include the people she wants to include in that process on her own?
From a broader perspective, are parental consent laws one of many types of legislation that marginalize and oppress minors' rights? Parental consent or notification laws reveal that American parents seek too much control over minors in general. If the age to vote were lowered, would the nation see a greater disparity in agreement for parental consent laws, as well as other laws surrounding driving ages and limitations, school regulations, work permits, and even the legality of having sex? Why in 2014 do minors, some of which have achieved amazing things, demonstrated more maturity than some adults and in many cases are more technologically advanced than older generations not able to vote on legislation that directly affects them?