by Jill Morrison

There are many people who are pro-choice, yet still support parental involvement laws.  Some truly believe these laws protect the family bond and parents’ interest in their children’s well-being.  They ask "How could a child consent to major surgery?"  Apparently, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking the same question. While she ran for office as the “pro-choice” candidate and garnered much support from the choice community, she has now reversed course and is in favor of enforcing Illinois’ parental notification law.

Unfortunately, Madigan and other supporters of these laws are misinformed about informed consent.  If a doctor has reason to believe that his minor patient can not understand the procedure, then the doctor can’t do it.  Informed consent is required for every procedure, and abortion providers consider it an extremely important part of patient care.

Enough with the old “the school can’t give my kid an aspirin without my permission, but she can get an abortion” rhetoric.  But if kids who were denied aspirin took desperate and dangerous measures rather than tell their parents about their need for aspirin, I think most parents would say “give the kids the aspirin!”  And just an aside: most teens do involve their parents in their abortion decision, and much to the chagrin of those opposing the right to choose, most parents support the decision to terminate.

But abortion is not aspirin; it involves the most intimate and private facets of life, and there is some Constitutional protection for the right to privacy no matter what a person’s age.  In fact, contrary to the assertions of aspirin-arguing supporters of parental consent and notification, there is plenty of legislative support for minors’ confidential access to health care services.  When requiring parental permission would discourage minors from getting vitally important health care, the law generally supports parent-free access.  Becky Bell’s mom wishes her daughter had that right, because there is a very good chance she’d be alive today.

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