Thursday, September 9, 2010

Alaska's Parental Notification Law

This story has been making the rounds in the feminist blogosphere for awhile now, but I somehow missed it until my sister brought it to my attention a few days ago.

Apparently, in Alaska, if a woman is under the age of 18 she does not have the right to her own uterus.
The state [Alaska] also became the 35th state to require some kind of parental notification or consent for a minor to obtain an abortion. As Alex Gutierrez reported from the state itself, this measure was controversial. The total expenditures to fight and promote the measure combined totaled more than $1 million —that’s more than $2 per registered voter in the state.


Parental consent and notification laws are one of those things that are politically popular among conservative — and even moderate — voters. What I find dangerous about the law is that it taps into a stereotypical parental protective instinct, sort of a mom- or dad-knows-best mentality. Fundamentally, though this simply isn’t practical or good policy.

In some instances, girls and young women seek abortions because they have been sexually abused by one of their parents. A law that requires both parents to consent could potentially put a minor in an abusive relationship in danger. Opponents of the new Alaska law fear the new law cause confusion and teens seeking an abortion might see the restriction a straight-up ban. For some teens, seeking an abortion is terrifying enough without piling on restrictions. Furthermore, Alaska is an extremely remote place — getting to another state with better abortion access might be particularly difficult and expensive.

It seems to me that if advocates of this law were truly concerned about young women having someone be aware of the procedure in the event of complications, then they should require that she have an emergency contact person (not necessarily a parent). What this law is really saying is that a woman under the age of 18 does not have the mental capacity to decide to terminate her pregnancy on her own and therefore has to clear it with her guardian first. This is not only problematic for the reasons above, but because a woman has the right to choose whether or not she is ready to carry a child to term and she has the right to make that decision any way she chooses- which means with or without the go ahead from her parents.

1 comment:

reskri said...

Oklahoma (used to) has the same standards. But, a minor can also go in front of a judge and state a case that it would cause problems in the home if she asked parentals for permission. If she has a good reason, they will a document to show so they don't have to have a parents permission. It isn't as harmful as some believe.