Caitlin Borgmann, a professor at CUNY School of Law and editor of the Reproductive Rights Prof Blog, wrote an article entitled “Parental Involvement Laws for Abortion: Irrational, Unnecessary and Downright Dangerous” for The Jurist.
Borgmann argues that parents shouldn’t be legally required to be involved in the decision of their children to undergo an abortion. Her reasons seem to me to be varied and contradictory. No. I’m understating it. Borgmann’s logic so far eludes the rational mind that it deserves an award for rhetorical gymnastics with her leaps of logic, her fearless use of non-sequiturs and total recklessness with facts.
I’ll walk with you through this minefield of mania. First, Borgmann seems shocked…shocked I say to discover that the people pushing parental involvement laws are pro-life. What?! People pushing laws to curb abortion are pro-life? Well who’d a thunk it?
While that seems pretty obvious to you and I, Borgmann reveals this as if she’s revealing the sudden and shocking conclusion of a Sherlock Holmes mystery. “It was the pro-lifers Watson.” Close curtain. Cue applause.
On their face parental involvement laws appear intended to keep parents informed and to ensure minors’ wellbeing. But let’s remember that the main proponents of parental involvement laws oppose abortion altogether. Their ultimate goal is not to improve familial communication but to eliminate abortion as an option for all women. A strategy memo written by anti-abortion-rights movement leaders James Bopp, Jr., and Richard E. Coleson, for example, encourages the passage of “parental involvement” laws, among other “incremental” restrictions on abortion. They argue that such laws “keep the abortion issue alive and . . . also translate into more disfavor for all abortions, which in turn reduces abortions.”
Ah-ha! They’re so busted. Anti-abortion activists plotting to end abortion. What next?
Couldn’t it be that pro-lifers believe that the decision to have an abortion is a major decision with lifelong consequences that should not be taken lightly?
OK. So she’s done with the finger pointing at the pro-lifers. Now she’s ready to walk a really fine line.
First she argues that we don’t need the law because most kids involve their parents anyway. And then in the same paragraph she starts saying we need the law because many parents are abusive and awful and terrible and beastly and all sorts of other mean nasty things.
The two things are a tad contradictory but consistency isn’t really her thing.
Studies have shown that most pregnant teens voluntarily involve their parents in their abortion decisions. Even in the absence of a parental involvement law, about six in ten teens consult at least one parent before seeking an abortion. Teens who avoid telling their parents often have compelling reasons for doing so. Teenagers may suffer abuse when their parents discover they are pregnant; other teens are thrown out of the house. Some parents actively prevent their children from obtaining an abortion. Some minors function as the de facto adult in dysfunctional homes where the custodial parent is largely absent. Because of the dangers that minors can confront when forced against their own judgment to involve their parents, most major medical groups, including the AMA and the American Academy of Pediatrics, oppose mandating parental involvement for abortion.
Now, let me just use Borgmann’s logic against her a little. These two organizations that don’t support parental involvement laws aren’t they also pro-choice organizations? Ah-ha! So we’ve got pro-choice organizations plotting against parental involvement laws. “It was the pro-choicers all along Watson.” Close curtain. Cue applause.
OK. Now we’re getting to the really tricky part where Borgmann shows she can balance contradictory thoughts in her brain with aplomb. She argued in the last paragraph and the title of her piece that parental consent laws are “downright dangerous.” But now she’s going to tell you that you should not support parental consent laws because they don’t achieve anything anyway.
In one paragraph to go from a calamitous apocalyptic law to the kids are gonna’ get an abortion no matter what we do is actually quite impressive. Here’s she goes:
Ironically, properly functioning bypass systems demonstrate the irrationality of requiring court waivers in the first place. When bypass processes work as envisioned, the vast majorities of minors’ petitions are granted. This is because the law requires that judges must grant a waiver of parental involvement if a minor is either mature enough to consent on her own or if an abortion without notice would be in her best interests. The vast majority of minors fall into one of these two categories. For example, one study in Massachusetts showed that out of 477 petitions, only one minor was denied a waiver. Indeed, a report by the AMA found that minors’ decision making process on abortion is comparable to that of adults aged 22-25. Thus, when bypasses work correctly, they ensure nothing more than that minors needlessly parade through courtrooms in order to be granted the right to do what they can already do for a host of other sensitive medical treatments: provide their own consent.
Wow. I’m exhausted. That was really a workout. I’m impressed with all of you for sticking with it.
So here’s what we learned. Pro-lifers want limits on abortion. Pro-choicers don’t. The bill would be dangerous for minors because they’d be forced to “needlessly parade through courtrooms.” Huh? What’s going on in those courtrooms that’s so dangerous?