Minors Should Be Able to Obtain Abortions Without Parental Consent
"I am mature enough to know that I am too immature to have a baby." Minor's statement to her attorney prior to her judicial bypass hearing in Michigan, 1992. The Proposition today believes that limiting the right to have an abortion of teenage girls in any way has dire consequences for the women, for the potential children and for the society as a whole. Therefore even parents should not be able to limit the right of their daughters to have an abortion. In order to set some ground for this debate, we will be talking about countries where abortion as such is legal. We believe that in such countries women or girls (of any age) should have the right to get a safe abortion, without neither of her parents knowing or consenting. We understand that making this decision is extremely difficult and we want to make sure that the girl involved has all the information about the procedure and proper counseling from professionals. The counselor should even encourage the girl to tell her parents herself. However, if for some reasons she still decides to go ahead with the abortion, she should get it. If we give parents the possibility to prevent their daughters from having abortions we have to assume that some will decide to use it and hence increase the number of teenage mothers who will give birth to a baby and often raise it as well. In this debate we we will show the consequences of having more teenage mothers in the society and prove that the best way to solve the situation is to give them the possibility to obtain an abortion without parental consent.
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Teens Can Make An Informed Decision
Side Proposition believes that opting for underage abortion is not a whimsical turn of mood on part of young women; we believe they are very much aware of the consequences of bearing a child if they want to avoid it.
Firstly, most teens have developed consequential thinking[[Shure and Spivack, 1990]], which means they are capable of assessing the consequences of their actions. Generally, we expect them to have developed this skill by junior high[[http://www.experientiallearning.ucdavis.edu/tlbx-ages.shtml]], as they are given more and more autonomy in project-making and other school projects. While that does not mean perfect foresight, it means that they are fairly capable of taking in the information about the risks of a surgery - fairly non-invasive if performed early - and benefits of having a child at the age of 17 and running the risk-benefit analysis upon coming to the clinic.
Secondly, sex education is on the curriculum of most countries. That means that children have sufficient information about sex and troubleshooting in its aftermath. Conversely, where sex education is unavailable, teen abortions without obstacles are even more important, as the minors involved obviously failed to feed in correct data and should get a second chance to get it right.
Thirdly, required counseling leading up to and after the abortion ensures that aborting teens are aware of risks and possible benefits.
Thus, teens can decide about their abortion responsibly. Of course, even if they are developed and rational, they still may not be able to bring children up - because of her social background, lack of money or absence of a father.
Side Opposition needs to ask: if they are not developed and rational enough to decide not to have a baby, how can they be considered developed enough to raise it?
We agree that the decision regarding having abortion is no light issue. Most minors are not mature enough to make decisions that are in their best interest. This is because they are much more vulnerable to impulses and sensitive to the slightest pressures, such as damage to their reputation or the anxiety of undertaking a responsibility like pregnancy. Teenagers primarily make decisions using the amygdale area of the brain, the part responsible for emotions, rather than the frontal cortex, the area responsible for reasoning.[[http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/the_teen_brain_behavior_problem_solving_and_decision_making]] The Proposition argues that most teens are capable of assessing the consequences of their actions. Since they also pointed out that sex ed is on the curriculum of most countries, we see that as a simple contradiction. If those teens who have received sex ed were unable to adequately deal with the consequences of having sex, then they must not be capable of assessing the consequences of their other actions. Counseling could be very valuable, but shouldn't be considered a stand-in for parental advice. "In a society that is sharply divided on the question of abortion, the teen may face enormous pressure to both continue and end the pregnancy. It is also a decision that the teen and the baby’s father will have to live with. This decision itself, to say nothing of a baby, is a grave responsibility to take on for someone whose own education is probably not complete.” [[http://www.pregnantteenhelp.org/articles66.html]]
Furthermore, counseling leading up to the abortion is not required by most countries. Let us remind the Proposition that this debate is about parental consent, not abortion itself. Obtaining such consent is usually not that huge an obstacle, and most states which require it make reasonable exceptions. It must be underlined that abortion laws requiring parental consent do not mean that teen parents have to raise their babies.
Individual Consequences of Teen Pregnancy
Side Proposition believes that the overall impact on minors bearing children is so severe that it justifies abortions without parental consent.
First and foremost, minors are faced with social consequences ranging from frendship failures to worsening inter-family relationships, from school drop-outs to isolation from the community of young adults, all of which impair the mother´s emotional health and her future life. Moreover, 25% of teenage mothers have another child within 2 years[[http://tinyurl.com/39xmlad]], which ensures inability to study, find job etc. Secondly, we believe that pregnancy itself is emotionally difficult, particularly if – for one reason or another – the mother seeks abortion but is prevented from having one without a parental consent. Teenage mothers are more likely to suffer from depression [[http://www.pregnancy-period.com/teen-pregnancy.html]] and those „who are pregnant or have a baby are seven times as likely to commit suicide than teenage women who are not responsible for their own child (Lerman).“ [[http://sean-c-powers.com/TeenagePregnancy.html]]
Thirdly, pregnancy is a physically exhausting state, especially when we consider that teenagers´ bodies are still growing and thus not yet ready for pregnancy. Having a baby requires immense strength and good health. The bones are still growing and the muscles are still supple. Getting pregnant can physically damage the body and weaken to an extent where it can prove fatal.[[http://tinyurl.com/3az9aza]] Worse still, minors are generally less likely to seek prenatal care, which further exacerbates the medical dangers.
At the end of the day, we see that banning abortions without parental consent has grave impact on the potential mother´s life, can damage her both physical and emotional health, relationships, and most importantly her ability to function in our society.
In contention 1, Proposition has stated that minors have developed “consequential thinking”- the ability to address the consequences of their actions. However, in their second contention, they have argued that 25% of teenage mothers have another child within 2 years. It appears that at least this many teenagers do not weigh the aftermath of their actions, and do not have the ability to “consequentially think” for themselves.
The Proposition stated that teenage mothers endure loss of social standing, emotional health, and ability to study, find jobs, and many other consequences a teenager faces when she is pregnant. Their sole statement here was that teenage pregnancy leads to serious risks in life, both psychologically, and physically. However, they have failed to link this to the resolution, which is that a teenage mother needs parental consent for abortion.
Without parental guidance, all the serious results they have stated from teenage pregnancy worsen. Parental consultation helps to lessen the psychological and physical difficulties. If the parents are aware of what is happening, they can be more perceptive of the problems their children face both prior to and following an abortion. Therefore, the Prop's contention about the ‘harms’ of pregnancy falls since its impact would worsen if teens are left to deal with the stresses of pregnancy on their own.
Societal Fallout of Teen Pregnancy
The unwanted pregnancy of minors doesn’t affect only the girl herself but also the whole society. Unwanted children cause economic and social burden for the state.
Firstly, teenage mothers are usually not in the situation in which they can take care of the baby as much as it’s necessary. They usually don’t have enough time for upbringing: they either still have to attend school and/or they don’t have any partner to help them (more than 80% of all births to teens (15 – 19) are in the cases of single mothers).[[http://tinyurl.com/39g58ne]] Moreover they often bring huge economic burden for the state: 80% of teen mothers must rely on welfare at some point. And as whole the teen childbearing cost taxpayers in the US 9.1 billion dollars in 2004.[[http://tinyurl.com/3223qkm]] Hence the children of teen mothers will in the vast majority of cases not get the upbringing and conditions for growing up as in the standard cases and besides they will cost huge amount of money.
Secondly, we have already mentioned that (unwanted) children of teen mothers usually don’t get the upbringing as others; it causes huge problems on the social level. Not only that nearly one third of daughters of teen mothers are more inclined to become teenage parents themselves,[[ http://tinyurl.com/3223qkm%5D%5D but more importantly children of teen mothers are more likely to commit crime:
Similarly the Freakonomics shows the impact of legalization of abortion on the fell of crime. New York, California (and few other states) legalized abortion in 1970’s and due to it the violent crime fell by 23% between 1988 – 1997.[[http://tinyurl.com/3y8ts72]]
We sincerely hope that the proposition is not suggesting it is better not to require parental consent because the parents may encourage their children to give birth, thus costing the rest of us money!
The proposition agrees most teen mothers are incapable of raising a baby without support. If abortion or adoption are not choices, then the responsibility of the child would most likely fall upon the teen’s parents. It is for this reason that the parents must have a say in making the decision, as it could affect the parents’ lives almost as much as the teen mothers.
The cost of “teen childbearing” and the dubious propensity for children of teen mothers to turn out as criminals and end up in jail does not prove that minors should be able to obtain abortion without parental consent. We maintain that the very suggestion is at worst, immoral, and at best, absurd.
Dangers of Back-Alley Abortions
Rebecca Suzanne Bell died because of ill-preformed abortion. At the age of 17, she was found dead. Real life example demonstrates what the phrase “requires parental consent” in the local abortion law does.
Let us consider the incentives – she was afraid of what her parents will say and how they will react. Here we have to emphasize an interesting fact – if the family of the teenage mother is supportive, they will do whatever is best for the girl anyway (ie – in most cases, grant the consent for abortion); however, in case the family is not so benevolent, we can see great fear of telling one’s parents. For not only the girl will not be granted the right, but she may be very well punished. As one study shown teenagers fear even obtaining information: “More than one-third of teens make their first visit for birth control to a clinic because they suspect pregnancy; only 14 percent come before first intercourse. Fear their parents will find out is a major reason most teens delay the visit until a year or more after starting intercourse”. Not to mention cases when an abusive relative (or even parent) is the father – the dread is immense here.
Other reasons for abortion may the inability to secure the child and/or the mother financially, (virtual) inability to obtain higher education with children to look after, even good reputation in some cases etc.
Here we can see that dangers of illegal abortions are immense, and so is the scale as Poland case study illustrates: “In all, that makes roughly 40,000 - 50,000 [illegal] abortions a year.”[[ http://tiny.cc/nijf8%5D%5D
Legalized abortion will be safe and available, should they desire it, thus eliminating all these unnecessary deaths.
We, the opposition, agree that every attempt should be made to stop “back alley abortions”, as they are very dangerous. We also understand that there are some extreme cases in which parental consent is not logical or cannot be allowed such as “the family is not so benevolent” or if the pregnancy is the result of abuse. In rare situations of abuse by one’s own parents, or there is fear of dangerous consequences there are alternatives available. For these cases, a judicial bypass could be obtained rather than parental consent. The option of judicial bypass has been put into place in many states that require parental consent in order to safeguard against these rare exceptions. It is quite obvious that if “parents” are able to so abuse their own children, then it is proven that parents are unable to make “prudent and rational decisions”. The minors may go before the court and the judge may grant a waiver, so in certain cases parental consent would not be required.
As unfortunate as it is, illegal abortion is inevitable, while having very little relevance to this debate. Back alley abortions take place even in countries that allow abortion on demand, although the numbers have been overestimated in the past and research has shown that many of the "illegal" abortions are being performed by licensed doctors and are actually quite safe. 
1. Crandall, Candace. National Center for the Public Policy Research Abortion: Opposing viewpoints. Pg. 63-64 (2006)
Reality of the Issue
Let us look at the reality of the situation:
One, consent laws aren't notification laws. Unlike notification - also ill-advised, but for different reasons - consent gives parents veto right over their daughter's abortion.
Two, consent laws are mostly adopted with the express purpose that parents be able to veto the abortion. While we accept that perfectly liberal families exist which discuss sex openly and can support their teenager through post-abortion procedures, they aren't as likely to live within a legislature that passed a parental consent law as conservatives are. We need to realize that if a teen is unwilling to report pregnancy to her conservative parents, it is partly because no intra-familial discussion that could soothe her sex-induced problems took place - and mainly because it is unlikely to. Such parents are also unlikely to grant the craved consent.
What next? Canada places faith in judicial bypasses, while we see they are unlikely to work properly in such societies: (a) acquiring judicial bypass is estimated to to take 22 days at minimum[[http://xr.com/telj]], (b) this figure is greatly understated in rural areas, where it is hard to get to a city judge, and in conservative areas, where judges often recuse themselves from the hearing, or deny petitions on a regular basis. Postponing abortion has serious health risks for teenage mothers; so does seeking illegal abortion service or even self-aborting, as 40 % of teens conceded they would do if they had to tell their parents[[S.K. Henshaw, "Parental Involvement in Minors' Abortion Decisions." , 1992 Family Planning Perspectives: 196-207, 213]]
Adoption, unlike opposition suggests, is not a solution that would greatly alleviate the situation as we will how in our next contention.
Most importantly, we elevate the risk that teens, in face of obstacles, will give birth. We expounded on dangers to individual and society if that is so; we prevent that by making abortion easier.
The Opposition would like to make it clear that the problem is not parents who are against abortion. We concede that there is a problem with parents who fail to concern themselves with their children's well-being, however, these compose only a minority, and exceptions can easily be accommodated by the law in those cases.
We propose that in cases where conservative parents who genuinely care about their children veto abortion, this is not as detrimental, nor is it likely to be as widespread a problem, as children who have abortions without parental counsel and support.
In fact, there are plenty of conservative folks who do begin to see things in a different light when it touches them. The problem here is that their children, faced with pregnancy, are likely to withdraw rather than reach out and access parental support. This, not the decision to abort or not to abort, is the real issue.
We are convinced that we are not wrong in putting reasonable faith in the process of judicial bypass. While an appeal may take as little as 3 days, it may be that the Prop is right in their complaint that in some areas it can take longer. If this is the case, then certainly policies may be put into place with relative ease; we need not put children at risk in order to work around an administrative detail.
Lastly, we are not arguing that adoption is a solution that would alleviate the situation; merely that other options exist that by nature necessitate parental involvement. It is this involvement that alleviates the risk of teens making emotional rather than well-thought-out decisions. The debate must focus on the benefits of the parental consent laws on a vast majority of girls – those who have parents ready to help – since teens that make up the exceptions would be granted judicial bypass.
Ponder what may happen in families:
1) Best-case: supportive liberal parents who will be willing to talk the issue over and grant the required consent if necessary.
2) Next-best case: anti-abortion parents, despite their values, sanction their daughter's extramarital sex, sign the form, and do not escalate the situation afterwards. While we deem this preferable, it is also unlikely: this would require parents to renounce their core beliefs, admit their parenting was all wrong, and adopt a far more open mindset than they sported in the past.
3) Real case: anti-abortion parents behave consistently, deny abortion right to their daughter, and thus force her to (a) self-abort or seek a back-alley abortion, (b) apply for judicial waiver, the waiting period of which increases risks of abortive surgery, (c) force her to carry the child to term and bring it up, exposing her health even further and taking most future prospects - job, education, and friends - away from her, or (d) force her to give the born child up for an adoption, which has negative effects of its own. The mother usually suffers from trauma and depression as well, but it also means that she still goes through with the pregnancy, therefore all the harms of it still stand.
Without consent laws, teens in case 1 will talk to their parents anyway, teens in case 2 will carry on not existing, and teens in case 3 will be able to undergo a safe procedure.
Lastly, even if parents give their consent, it takes time and the abortion will therefore be delayed (not to mention judicial waiver which is often not granted simply because of the conservative views of some judges). The risk of death or major complications significantly increases for each week into pregnancy, particularly if the abortion is delayed until the third trimester. Moreover, such abortions are more difficult to obtain because they are more expensive and fewer doctors perform them. [[http://xr.com/c9fj]]
As the Prop points out, there are time constraints involved with abortion, and waiting too long can increase risks. This must, however be weighed against the necessity of carefully considering the heavy risks and other issues related to the decision to get an abortion. We hope that the Prop will agree that snap decisions are not desirable in such a case; that careful thought and counsel is necessary to offset the immense risks in even a best-case scenario. The need for judicial waiver need not, as they claim, delay matters. In fact, T. Joyce’s 2010 Arkansas study  suggests that teens who obtain judicial waivers have earlier abortions, not later ones.
Allowing teens to make emotional decisions does not mean that we are giving them what they even want, let alone what is best for them. "Where support through counseling is offered (for example, in Sweden) to pregnant women who are not sure if they should or can carry their pregnancy to term, they are more likely not to abort."  This suggests that abortion may not be what they choose, but the only option they believe is available to them.
The Prop seems to believe that they alone have access to the ‘real case’ of pregnant teens; we contend that this claim is flippant and unsupportable. Yes, there are parents who hold their own interests in higher regard than their children’s welfare, and parents who fail to offer their children the support they need; however, we firmly maintain that such parents are a minority. Besides, as we have already pointed out, the option of obtaining a judicial waivers is sufficient to deal with this problem.
Summary: Czech Republic
This week, we stood for rights of teens not to tell, on three bases: (1) teens can choose rationally without involving a parent, (2) requiring parental consent endangers mother's health too much, and (3) abortion is nearly always preferable for teens. Holding any of these arguments means a Proposition win, as Opposition didn't offer an ethics or principle that could outweigh our analysis.
1) If teen can decide without parents, why violate her right?
One, we proved that teens are rational, especially in as serious cases as abortions. Only reply? "Teens mostly think with amygdala and this thus is impossible", which is gibberish.
Two, even if teen was amygdala-slave, she can consult counselors and other trusted non-parent adults instead of parents, thus ensuring informed choice without need for veto right.
Three, even if experts weren't best counselors, neither are parents: as shown, if they aren't consulted, it's for very good reasons, as they harm rather than help.
As legislating parental consent is right-violating, unnecessary, and harmful, Prop wins.
2) Consent laws imperil teen moms. We showed that chance of parental veto in societies with consent laws is big, even in as free countries as the US. Veto has serious impacts: teen either gives birth (70 %), self-aborts (12 %), or seeks judicial bypass[[http://is.gd/fh8Do]]. In all cases, teen's health is spoilt; long-term mental & physical health of both mother and child is most at stake with childbirth. However, parents only hurt in that case, the only case where they need be consulted (Canada's main "benefit").
As harms to the teen outrank harms to parents, the teen must have right to override her parents' wishes.
3) As proved, short and long-term harms of childbirth outweigh dangers of legal abortion and its wake. Alone, by showing abortion is the most sensible option for immature, single, poor girls, we show that enabling anyone to ban them from desired abortion harms society's and teens' best interests. Opp gave no benefits of not aborting; we don't believe there are any so early in one's life. Therefore, as it is unreasonable to allow parents to violate a right decision, Prop wins.
Moreover, Canada thrice conceded the debate.
1) By dropping parental veto cases as "extremes" which "reformed judicial bypasses can solve": if we could reform system, so that it'd always grant teen abortions regardless of parental wish, why have the law? As long as we can't, all harms stay acute.
2) By giving twice pregnant teen moms as "inconsequentially thinking": clearly, if having kids this young is irrational, danger of veto to abortion is too great to be allowed!
3) By distorting (often nonexistent) proofs, e. g. claims that back-alley abortions are safe (we can't even find if author exists), that judicial bypass won't put abortion off (study not about bypasses), or that abortions lead people to substance abuse (nonexistent). That's unfair in debate mostly about facts v. emotions.
Teens Cannot Make the Best Decision
Abortion is no simple matter, and it involves mature considerations of all options available. The Opposition believes that most minors are simply not mature enough to make decisions that are in their best interest. This is especially because they are more vulnerable to impulses and sensitive to the slightest pressures. While we acknowledge that teenage girls might be afraid of informing their parents of their wish to obtain an abortion, or of their pregnancy at all, we also believe that for most pregnant teens, parents play a vital role in making decisions that are in their best interest. The most important decision-making centres of the brain are simply not fully developed in teens. “The greatest changes to the parts of the brain that are responsible for functions such as self-control, judgment, emotions, and organization occur between puberty and adulthood. This may help to explain certain teenage behavior that adults can find mystifying, such as poor decision-making, recklessness, and emotional outbursts.”[[http://www.actforyouth.net/documents/may02factsheetadolbraindev.pdf]] Because their children are not intellectually developed, it is only reasonable to enact laws that protect teens and offer them the best chance possible to make a decision that is in their best interests. Teens facing pregnancy are understandably afraid and often embarrassed. Without the laws in place to ensure that they reach out, they may opt to keep it secret from their parents, depriving themselves of the very support they need.
Opposition claims that teens lack consequential thinking because of insufficient brain development, obtain more reliable counseling from parents than from trained specialists, and ultimately have their best interests represented by parents only.
Firstly, negation of teen ability to evaluate consequences of their action - in this case, abortion - rests on (1) claim that teens use amygdala part of the brain and therefore can't think consequentially, (2) are thus impulsive and impressionable in all cases. The former is blinding by science, an attempt to deny psychological findings by a biological fact, the ilk of denying the existence of airplanes because "humans develop no wings in their lifetime, hence cannot fly". The latter is a fallacy: abortion is not like deciding to skip homework and go to a party, or even have sex. (Having sex and getting pregnant are not evidence against consequential thinking - it happens to many adults.) Maternity - and abortion - require decision-making that is logically exempt of emotional outbursts; either you want to be a young mother, or you don't, and for very good reasons. You don't need to block your amygdala out to do that.
Even if teens were as bad decision-makers as Opposition asserts, what is then more sensible - to allow them to make a decision that will impact them in the short term, like abortion will, or allow them to make long-term decisions about themselves, their parents AND their child?
Secondly, Opposition wants to make sure - that is, legally obligatory - that teens "reach out" for help. Yet, that is what teens do by trying for an abortion! As we pointed out in Contention 5, the reality of the situation is that most teens who don't inform their parents in consent-requiring have very good reasons for it, amongst them the fact that their parents may not help them but rather exacerbate their situation even further.
Therefore, there is no argument to be made about the necessity of taking final word away from teens.
Abortion is a serious issue
Restrictions are placed on the legal rights and freedoms of minors in societies all around the world. In many countries, parental consent is required for medical treatment, body modification such as piercings or tattoos, and marriage of minors. Almost every country restricts, by age, permission to drive or to drink alcohol.
Many, if not most, of the youth affected by this debate are regularly required to obtain their parents' consent for activities like school trips and extracurricular groups. It would seem inconsistent in the extreme to deny the necessity of similar parental consult in relation to a decision as monumental and obviously distressing as abortion.
Abortion is a major operation that affects the patients’ psychological and physical health before and after the procedure, that cannot be dealt with by the teen mothers themselves especially when 80% of teen mothers are single mothers. Abortion is not a simple process that impulsive teens that lack knowledge and experience with such things can handle by themselves. It is a process that is as monumental as any other things for a minor to have to get consent to perform, if not far more significant than the common requirements of parental consent.
It is lamentable how Opposition confuses abortion with a momentary whim such as piercings, trips, or even bad habits, as abortion is none of these. Unlike team Canada, we believe that pregnancy cases exist where parental consent for abortion is counterproductive and deplorable.
The fact that parents have to consent to other regular surgeries does not automatically mean that they should do so in the case of abortion. Opposition is asserting again, rather then providing explanation and analysis for their claims. In case of pregnancy and abortion it is the minor who will have to deal with the consequences - parents of the minor will not have to carry the baby for nine months or (in most cases) raise it. Minors can for example consent on their own to services related to childbirth - and even to delivery by cesarean section, a far more dangerous procedure than abortion. Therefore, there can be no health-related reason for denying them the right to consent on their own to abortion. [[Heather Boonstra and Elizabeth Nash, "Minors and the Right to Consent to Health Care" 3 The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy 4, 6-7 (Aug. 2000)]]
We agree that abortion is a difficult procedure but so is childbirth. Abortion is actually safer than childbirth (which we assume will happen when parents refuse to consent) and teens are 24 times more likely to die from childbirth than from a legal abortion performed in the first trimester. [[http://tinyurl.com/3yefvge]] If we really have the minor's best interest in mind, we should give them an opportunity of safe abortion which is denied by requiring parental consent, often leading to back alley abortions as we explained in our fourth argument. The society is ultimately responsible for girls dying or having permanent heath damage because we allowed their parents to interfere in their private life.
Yes, abortion is serious but so are the alternatives. It should be up the minor weigh the risks and decide for herself about her future life.
Parent's responsible status in sociey
Societies around the globe recognize parents as having certain responsibilities.
If a teenage driver gets into a car accident, it is the parents that are responsible for paying for the damage. The law in this case recognizes that the child should not be responsible. The decision to have an abortion is a serious one, as the Proposition has already agreed. Parents have a role in society to protect their children from dangers and things that may harm them. If we as a global society require parents to take responsibility, we need to ensure that they have a corresponding right to the information that will allow them to act.
Having an abortion is a surgical procedure. If a child were having his tonsils out, the hospital would require a signed form from the parents giving them permission to perform the surgery. An abortion is no different. There are always risks with medical procedures and parents have a right to know what is happening with their child.
The decision whether or not to terminate the pregnancy does not only affect the mother. If she decides not to keep the baby, whether it is through abortion or adoption, the emotional ramifications of that decision will affect the parents as the teen experiences them. If the teen decides to keep the child, the parents are affected in more ways than one. They will likely be the ones that are responsible for supporting the baby financially as most teenage mothers are unemployed. They will also be responsible for the care of the child during school hours while the teen is attending classes. The majority of society expects no less of them.
The decision to allow a teen to obtain an abortion affects the parents as much as it does the teen, and therefore they should have the right to be a part of that decision.
Having an abortion is far from having a surgery. Not only because of the liabilities, which significantly differ (for the teenage mother and the teenage mother only has the legal obligation to care for her children), but also because of the people we are discussing.
We are talking about families where the consent will not be granted, for that is the only group that will be affected by any such law. These parents will hardly offer any kind of support – be it financial or emotional one. In most cases they have failed as parents – their children are reluctant to even tell them.
All those who have understanding families are consulting them already:” In fact, 90% of minors under 15 involved a parent in their decision to have an abortion. A majority of teens who did not talk to a parent turned to another trusted adult.”[[http://xr.com/c9fj]] We see that even teenage mothers understand the severity of the situation and if the family is working, they will consult them (and if needed will receive the consent); however, the group which will be most affected by this law is consisting of families, where the child cannot trust the adult.
Moreover, because of the legal liability I have adumbrated we may see that parents will not be affected by the fact whether the child has been born or not. There will always be cases (especially in very religious families), where the families will repudiate their daughter because of her pregnancy and thus she will have to take care of her own child without anyone’s support. She will be desperate, moneyless, and alone with her child.
Let us now look how this will affect legal responsibilities – parents (who are responsible for their child only, not for children of their children) will be able to completely overrule decision of their daughter (who will then have the legal responsibility to look after and secure her child). We believe that opposition second-tracks those who are in the vanguard of the impact.
Requiring parental consent is one way for government to ensure that minors receive the psychological and emotional support they need.
Abortion is a crucial matter to choose in one’s life. Researchers concluded that “exposure to abortion is a traumatic life event which increases longer-term susceptibility to common mental disorders”. This is the time when the relationship between parents and their children is vital. Informing parents in order to obtain consent is essential and must be reinforced by law. Learning of an unplanned pregnancy is an emotional time. Teens are scared, ashamed and worried about disappointing their parents. It is at this time that they need the support of their parents the most. Having a law requiring that they tell their parents will help them to gain the support they might not ask for, but so desperately need.
“Women...in their teen years are at an even higher risk for developing psychological problems following an abortion….[; moreover,] half of the teenage abortion patients suffered a “worsening of psychosocial functioning…49% reported drug abuse and 39% began to use or increased their use of alcohol… Approximately 14% described themselves as having become ‘addicted’ or ‘alcoholic’ after their abortions…60% reported suicidal ideation with 28% actually attempting suicide, of which half attempted suicide two or more times.”
As they are so much more likely to develop mental issues, parental involvement is imperative in the prevention of further psychological trauma. Parents offer an important connection and have a unique understanding of their own children. This is because they live under the same roof, eat at the same table, and have invested mentally, emotionally, and materially in their offspring. For this reason, they are able to most effectively offer counsel regarding the issue of abortion.
This argument suffers from several significant flaws in logic and factual content.
One, there is the assumption that parents provide the best guidance; in team Canada's view, parents are the best and most appropriate help just because they "live under the same roof" and "eat at the same table." This is of course incorrect. Opposition says: “the relationship between parents and their children is vital“ and it is in the perfect world, but in the real world it often isn’t. Numerous families have a huge gap between children and parents, e. g. conservative religious parents and their non believing children. Parents often aren't willing to discuss and guide their children on the issue, but are more likely to forbid abortion and let children to deal with it on their own.
Secondly, Opposition contradict itself: in contention 1, they said this debate is not about merits of abortions, while here they argue against abortions as a whole and list their negative consequences. We already showed that similar impact can be expected of childbirth or adoption but moreover, this has nothing to do with parental consent, as requiring consent is unlikely to ease these impacts. In fact, parental consent may exacerbate them: Canada cites a US statistics (though inaccessible) but vast majority of the US has parental consent as necessary for abortion.[[http://tinyurl.com/yh956uw]] These girls likely consulted their parents; yet, they became alcoholics and slobs! As we explained, family relationships can be ruined by simple notification that the girl is pregnant or wants to undergo abortion. The cause of alcoholism or drug use isn’t the abortion itself, but more likely the shattered family.
Parental Notification is Not Enough
Notification laws typically require that parents know about an abortion 24-48 hours prior to the procedure. At this point, the decision has most often been finalized, and the teen may feel committed to the procedure. Abortion, being a more immediate option than either adoption or caring for a child, often seems like a way to just make the problem of an unwanted pregnancy “go away” – particularly in the case of a teen whose brain is hard-wired to deal with emotions rather than facts.
The Prop states that teens with understanding families do consult them over a pregnancy. We maintain that many of them are not. Many teens have no idea how their parents will respond to such a scenario, and unable to think rationally about the possibilities. “40% of minors having an abortion report that neither of their parents knew about the abortion.“ [[http://www.deveber.org/text/whealth.html#eighteen]]
As we have already pointed out, the majority of teens simply are not at a level of brain development that allows them to make decisions based on rational, rather than emotional, considerations. The big problem is not parents who are against abortion, but teens who refuse to consult even supportive parents because they fear disappointing them. This is why they need to be pushed to consult their parents.
We concede that there exists a problem with parents who fail to concern themselves with their children's well-being, however, these compose only a minority, and exceptions can easily be accommodated by the law. In fact, there are plenty of conservative folks who do begin to see things in a different light when it touches them. The problem here is that children, faced with pregnancy, are likely to withdraw rather than reach out and access parental support. In cases where conservative parents who genuinely care about their children do veto abortion, this is not as detrimental, nor is it likely to be as widespread, as children who have abortions without parental counsel and supp
Unless Canada presents good reasons for childbirth against mother's will, no reason exists for granting her parents a veto right, because anything but abortion is against her best interests. Once again: consent law doesn't only bar the teen from keeping her mistake a secret (which is a bad thing, as "teens who do not voluntarily consult a parent generally have good reasons not to", mainly because they may be evicted or beaten[[Stanley K. Henshaw and Kathryn Kost, "Parental Involvement In Minors' Abortion Decisions," 24 Family Planning Perspectives 196, 200 (1992), in http://xr.com/c9fj%5D%5D), but also allows parents to force the teen to carry the baby to term. This violates freedom of choice and everyone's better judgment.
Let's stop here. Opposition asserts that denial of consent would be exceptional. That is rather the most likely scenario, as "almost two-thirds of Americans (63%) believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances", and if a relative was to have abortion, "67.4 %" would pass such judgment on her[[http://tinyurl.com/3xpb7jt]] Opposition's claim that "plenty of conservative folks who do begin to see things in a different light" is just that: a claim. How likely is it that they'll give up their lifelong values? With 80 % mothers to give birth if denied parental consent to abortion[[http://tinyurl.com/2uwvx8n]], this will cause a lot of unnecessary tragedy.
Moreover, teens who leave their parents out will consult even without consent laws: "majority of teens who did not talk to a parent turned to another trusted adult"[[Henshaw and Kost, 1992]]. With the Opposition figure of "40 %" non-reporting teens nowhere to be found in provided source, though, we wouldn't worry about that much anyhow: we will stick with the corroborated value of "90% ... involved a parent in their decision"[[http://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/laws-restricting-teenagers-access-abortion]].
Abortions Pose a Danger that Parents Have a Responsibility to Assess For Their Children
We wholeheartedly reject the Prop’s suggestion that legal abortions are safe and present a teen’s best option, and that the danger for pregnant minors is parental intervention. Admittedly, parents in our world aren’t always what we wish them to be, but we insist that they do more harm than good.
The Prop has denied the immense risks associated with abortion, which stretch from acute hematometra (post-abortal syndrome) to breast cancer, infertility, and increased risk for clinical depression and suicide. [[http://www.abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics]]
“A large-scale, authoritative Scandinavian study shows post-pregnancy death rates within one year that are nearly four times greater among women who abort their pregnancies than among women who bear their babies. The suicide rate is nearly six times greater among aborting women than among women who give birth. These findings refute the oft-heard claim that induced abortion is safer than childbirth.”[[http://www.deveber.org/text/whealth.]] The myth that childbirth is more risky than abortion is largely based on the way that statistics about abortion-related deaths are collected: such deaths are often attributed to present problems.
These are risks that parents have a right and a responsibility to evaluate for their minor children, who are by law as well as by custom the responsibility of parents. So why should abortions need consent when a decision to keep the child doesn’t? Quite simply, the nature of pregnancy in most cases necessitates parental involvement, since it is rarely kept a secret, and almost always requires emotional and material support. The law need not step in where immediacy does.
In truth, each of the options, including abortion, carry with them serious and long-term risks that need to be not only carefully considered, but offset with the kind of support a parent is best able to give.
Prior to any refutation, we raise a red flag concerning Opposition's sources. The first one doesn't contain the words "hematometra" nor "suicide" at all; the second one throws a 404 error. Sadly, that's the case with most Canada's sources.
We had to look up the "large-scale Scandinavian study"[[http://tinyurl.com/37m5ugb]]: it was only done in Finland, where on-demand abortion is illegal[[http://tinyurl.com/39tbdf]], on a sample of 73 women in 1987-1994 - and finds that women who aborted are more likely to commit suicide, which is very far from proving anything at all, let alone debunking the "myth that childbirth is more risky than abortion". "Acute hematometra" has a 0.1 - 1 % incidence, and is no "immense risk"[[http://tinyurl.com/37xkn9w]]; moreover, breast cancer is not linked to abortion at all, as WHO[[http://tinyurl.com/3xymzd5]] and other organizations[[http://tinyurl.com/36yvp5n]] concede. As for depression, in a 1990 review, the American Psychological Association (APA) found that "severe negative reactions [after abortion] are rare and are in line with those following other normal life stresses,"[[http://tinyurl.com/25c4qpc]] confirming the findings again in 2008[[http://tinyurl.com/39f9pyx]]. As a matter of fact, the most frequent emotion of mothers following abortion is relief[[http://tinyurl.com/398eknh]].
In contrast, risks of death in childbirth, especially for young mothers, are 24 times greater[[http://tinyurl.com/3yefvge]]; plus, we have already explained that damages of carrying baby to term - which 70 % mothers denied consent will do![[http://tinyurl.com/2uwvx8n]] - for both her and her baby.
As this argument relied on assertion that parents can make a better cost-benefit analysis of abortion, and we proved that abortion has lower risks than anything else - why grant veto to allow for an irrational choice? Consent law is only good for misuse and that we reject.
Under-16s need parental consent for medical treatment and surgery.
Under-16s need parental consent for medical treatment and surgery: abortion should not be an exception. There are plenty of other things children are not allowed to do without their parents’ consent: tattooing, ear-piercing, school activities such as school trips; parents can withdraw their children from school religious activities without their children’s consent; under-16s are not allowed to get married without their parents’ consent. Abortion is at least as important a decision as any of these.
Parental consent is not legally necessary to have a baby, and nor should it be. The ultimate authority over whether to have a baby must be the baby’s mother, not its grandparents. It is absurd to say that someone is old enough to have a baby, but not old enough to have an abortion. The parental consent required for surgery is a legal sham in any case, since in serious cases a refusal can be overridden on medical advice with a court order: in effect, parents can consent to surgery on their children, but cannot withhold their consent. This is not a good example for the proposition.
Parents have a right to know what their children are doing.
Parents have a right to know what their children are doing: they are legally responsible for their care, and as parents they have a proper interest in any case. Any good parent would want to know if their daughter were having an abortion; any good parent would want to help her daughter make a good decision on the matter, and to prevent her making a bad decision.
There are good reasons for not telling parents of a pregnancy. Parents who are opposed to abortion may force their daughter to continue with a pregnancy against her wishes, even at a risk to her health or life. Disclosing that you are pregnant necessarily requires that you disclose that you are sexually active: some parents may disapprove of this to the extent that they throw their daughter out of the house, or become physically or emotionally abusive.
The parents of teenagers have to live with the consequences of teenage motherhood.
The parents of teenagers have to live with the consequences of teenage motherhood: they often bear a particularly large responsibility for looking after the children, because teenage mothers are usually 1) single; 2) living at home; 3) unemployed; 4) in full-time education. They are economically dependent, and unable to give all of their time to their children. If the mother’s parents are going to have to look after their grandchild and to live with it, they should have a say on whether it is born in the first place.
This is irrelevant, because the proposal is not that parents should be able to compel their daughters to have abortions, only that they should be able to veto an abortion. The fact that parents of teenage mothers often play a major role in their grandchildren’s upbringing does not mean that they are allowed to insist that their children should produce grandchildren for them against their will.
The decision often has a major long-term impact on a woman's psychological and emotional well-being.
The decision whether to have an abortion or continue the pregnancy often has a major long-term impact on a woman's psychological and emotional well-being, her ability to continue formal education, and her future financial status. The proposed measure helps ensure that pregnant teenagers get support and guidance from their parents in this important decision. If parents are not informed, there is a risk that they and their daughters will become permanently estranged at a time when parental support is most important.
This measure is unnecessary for stable and supportive families, in which daughters may well choose to discuss their pregnancy with their parents in any case, and ineffective and cruel in unstable and troubled families, as they do nothing to transform the unhelpful atmosphere in which the daughter is reluctant to tell her parents she is pregnant, and simply make the family situation worse.
In exceptional cases, we appreciate that it may be inappropriate for a child to tell her parents.
In exceptional cases, we appreciate that it may be inappropriate for a child to tell her parents she is pregnant: where she is estranged from them, for example, where she has been abused by them, or where telling them would present a serious foreseeable threat to her safety. In such cases, the courts could allow a waiver so that she would not have to tell them, as happens in those US states where this policy exists. In normal circumstances, however, they should be informed and consulted, and these unusual cases do not affect the principle that this is a sensible law.
Obtaining parental consent necessarily imposes a delay into the abortion process, which increases the likelihood of complications: generally speaking, the earlier in pregnancy an abortion takes place, the safer it is. Necessary safeguards such as judicial waivers introduce even more delays - at least 22 days in the US. For the sake of the mother’s health, it is better not to require parental consent.
This may be one of the circumstances which could be grounds for a judicial waiver
This may be one of the circumstances which could be grounds for a judicial waiver - again, it should not be thought to invalidate the principle that parents should be consulted over whether underage children should have abortions. For young women nearly at the end of the 16 or 18 age barrier, the case for parental consultation is clearly less compelling; for 13-year-olds it is overwhelming. We have to draw the line somewhere, and remain sensitive to individual circumstances.
Placing an age boundary after which a woman no longer needs to obtain parental consent, say at 16 or 18, may encourage a woman just below that age to wait until her birthday before seeking a legal abortion - again, the later the abortion, the more dangerous it is. The law is not good at allowing for individual circumstances, especially when it is required to make quick decisions, so it is unlikely to mitigate the impact of new rules.
Requiring parental consent will lead to a fall in the number of abortions.
Requiring parental consent will lead to a fall in the number of abortions. In Minnesota, the number of legal teenage abortions fell by 25% when this measure was introduced; in Virginia it fell by 20%. Since abortion is - quite apart from moral questions about its permissibility - physically and psychologically traumatic for mothers, especially teenage mothers, this is a good thing.
There are various rational reasons why a child might not want to tell her parents she is pregnant, such as foreseeable parental disapproval. Requiring her to tell her parents may encourage her to run away from home. In the US, there have been numerous examples of teenagers crossing state lines to states which do not require parental consent or notification in order to get abortions - this could happen in Europe too (indeed, many Irish women already travel to Britain seeking abortions, which are banned in Eire). A teenager may also seek an unregulated ‘backstreet’ abortion or try to carry out an abortion on herself - both of which are highly dangerous. These factors account in large part for the fall in recorded teenage abortions in US states with similar laws.
When the ‘quick-fix’ of abortion as a response to teenage pregnancy is no longer so easily available...
When the ‘quick-fix’ of abortion as a response to teenage pregnancy is no longer so easily available to teenagers, attitudes change. Teenagers are less likely to have sex, or more likely to use contraception if they do - both of which have positive effects on health, by cutting unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Campaigns for sexual abstinence and contraceptive awareness are to be encouraged, but should not be an alternative to abortion provision. No sensible person would choose abortion as a good alternative to contraception, because it is more dangerous, more traumatic and harder to obtain than contraceptives - it is a necessary last resort. If sexual abstinence is not a sensible reaction to abortion being made more inaccessible, then making abortion more inaccessible is not a sensible way of increasing sexual abstinence.
Opposition Summary & Conclusion
Throughout this debate, the Proposition has argued that parental consent should not be necessary to obtain an abortion as teens are capable of making an informed decision. They have also argued that pregnancy is mentally and physically challenging, and teen mothers are a burden on society.
When a teenage girl discovers she is pregnant, the immediate reaction is feelings of fear, humiliation and shame. She wants to fix the problem created by her impulsive act and avoid any distressing consequences. Some minors may not want to discuss their pregnancy with their parents, not because parents are unreasonable, but that the teen is afraid of disappointing them. They may not realize that parents are there to support them and will ultimately do what is in their best interest.
The simple fact is that teens are better off if they have to consult their parents when making a life-altering decision. The reason many teens do not ask for help from their parents is not because they are able to correctly or rationally weigh the merits of all the available options, but because they are young, scared and emotional. No option is a universal remedy; all have significant drawbacks. The key, then, is to ensure that teens have sufficient support to deal with the decision that is made. Where parents are unable to give this support, then a judge’s evaluation of the situation is a safer bet than that of a panicking teenager.
We believe that Prop's plan does little to resolve the problems in the status quo, but instead blurs the ultimate goal: the well-being of teen girls. This round comes down to a debate of not whether abortion is bad or not, but whether or not parental consent is beneficial for the minors themselves. There is no easy answers for teenage pregnancy, every solution will ultimately affect the teen and alter their lives completely. At the end of this debate we want to make sure that whatever decision was to be made- whether it was abortion or adoption - the minors are safe and supported. This will be achieved through parental support and guidance.
Parents have a responsibility placed upon them society to take care for their children. If we pass this resolution, we will be taking away the tools for parents to be able to fulfill this responsibility. In order to guarantee that this takes place, the government must step in and make it mandatory that parents be involved in such a monumental decision.
Abortion, like raising child is a huge responsibility. It is important to remember that we can never separate freedom from responsibility, and that when we offer minors the freedom to choose, knowing that the vast majority of them do not have tools to make a choice that takes their long-term interests into consideration, let alone the information or life experience to know what the risks are, we are placing a huge burden of responsibility on them that they are not equipped to handle. That is not being kind – it is irresponsible and unfair.
What do you think?