Massachusetts Considers Easing Parental Consent Rules On Abortion

The Massachusetts Legislature’s Public Health Committee is considering a new bill to ease parental consent rules for abortion. According to Planned Parenthood League Of Massachusetts, young women in Massachusetts under age 18 need to acquire written permission from a parent or guardian to obtain an abortion; if she’s unable to discuss this sensitive subject with a parent, she can get permission from a judge. But this new bill would allow young women to get permission from a doctor, nurse, or family member over age 25 instead of the court.

Additionally, a Democratic state rep in MA filed another bill including these same provisions, but would also lower the current age of consent  to 16.

Not surprisingly, these bills have received criticism for undermining parental authority and for potentially increasing the number of abortions in Massachusetts. Instead of increasing teen pregnancies? Um, okay. Republican State Rep. Jim Lyons argued, “This bill, based on statistics, would increase the number of abortions. I think the goals should be to reduce the numbers of abortions.” Well duh, but such goals would probably be better achieved by preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place through comprehensive sexual health education.

Quoted in the Lowell Sun, Jamie Sabino, a private attorney specializing in teens seeking judicial authorization for abortion, said such parental consent laws have historically had little to no effect on numbers of abortions. Most minors do involve their parents in making the decision to have an abortion in the first place — in other words, if a teenager is seeking a way not to tell their parents about an abortion, they probably have a good reason (like fear of violence). “Don’t think of this statute as an alternative to parental consent,” Sabino said. “Think of it as an alternative to going to court.”

Ultimately, the goal of these bills is to protect young women and give them alternatives to getting parental consent for abortions. We wouldn’t want young women turning to abortion-providing facilities that may not be safe, like the clinic of Kermit Gosnell, or encountering family violence. This bill will most likely not increase the number of abortions, but will in fact make it safer for young women to get abortions.

[Lowell Sun]
[Planned Parenthood League Of Massachusetts]

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[Photo of pregnant teenager via Shutterstock]