A 13-year-old in Pennsylvania was hospitalized this weekend after giving herself a “home abortion” with a pencil last Wednesday. Police say the girl, whose identity is being kept secret due to her age, became violently ill for three days, had contractions and allegedly delivered a stillborn before she received medical care. The girl claims she was pregnant by 30-year-old Michael James Lisk, who buried the fetus’ body in woods near his home. Lisk was arraigned on charges of rape of a child, deviate sexual intercourse, concealing the death of a child, and abuse of a corpse.
There are a lot of incredibly tragic aspects to this story, starting with the fact that this young teen had a sexual relationship with a 30-year-old since June 2009. Even if in the girl’s eyes it was consensual, it was rape in the eyes of PA state law.
But PA has a “parental consent” law for minors who seek an abortion. This means a pregnant teen girl has to get consent — not just notify, but get consent — from a parent or guardian in order to terminate a pregnancy. Understandably, some girls don’t want a grown-up in their life to know, fearing being called a slut, getting beaten, or being thrown out of the house. Some girls go the “back alley abortion” route, like getting someone to punch their stomach or shoving something up themselves.
Supporters of parental consent laws, as well as parental notification laws, say that is not the intention at all. One of the intentions behind these laws seems to be to let an adult know that their teenager is sexually active, presumably so they can intervene, or that their teenager has been raped, presumably so they can help them. In this case, those idealistic goals catastrophically failed.
It’s not hard to see how the fact that this 13-year-old girl needed parental consent for an abortion — which likely would have tipped them off to her 30-year-old friend/rapist — could have led her to do it herself. The silver lining is a sexual predator has now been arrested. But still, the fact that a teenage girl in America in 2010 believed she had to give herself a “back alley abortion” in a country where we have safe, legal ones absolutely makes me sick.