Sorry for the long title there, I am all hot and bothered over this one. Anyhow, this post is in response to my previous Prop 4 post and the hostile comments from an anti-choice commenter with the fitting screen name “Ridiculous.” While I don’t usually post based on comment threads, I am aware that the Prop 4 race is very close in California and that every vote from those us who believe in social justice and a female’s right to choose is needed. Further, because Ridiculous uses the typical tactic of exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims meant to convince voters that Prop 4 is a good thing for teens (rather than a disastrous thing for teens specifically and women in general), I would like to counter these claims in detail.
Ridiculous started her/his comment with the claim that Prop 4 will help stop ‘child predators’ with the following:
“right now an embarrassed teen can go to a clinic, even with the guy who abused her and get an abortion. With parental notification, the parent already knows about the sex. The parents can ask who the father is. Better chance of turning in criminals, better chance of the abuse stopping.”
This claim has a number of problematic assumptions as follows:
1. The teen is ’embarrassed’ -as supposedly SHE should be for having sex – naughty, naughty!
2. The guy who had sex with her is characterized as an ‘abuser’ – what if these two people are in a consensual relationship? While laws claim you cannot consent until 18, the reality is that teenagers have sex. Ignoring this fact and trying to legislate sex will not work. Read up, Ridiculous, on the ridiculous failure of all the money wasted on abstinence only education.
3. The parents are set up as watch-dogs policing their daughter’s sexuality. They can turn in ‘criminals’ and ‘abusers.’ Yeah, because anyone doing the nasty before 18 should either be locked into a chastity belt or a cell!
Ridiculous goes on to claim that parental consent laws are “written with protections for girls fearing their parents.” (Note that although Ridiculous accuses me multiple times of doing no research and writing based merely on opinion, that s/he (?) does not cite any sources for her/his claims.) Regarding the assertion that such laws provide ways around parental consent in ‘necessary’ cases, Ridiculous writes that “there is an expediated court process, and the clinic is required to help the girl navigate the process, to allow the decision to be made for her” (emphasis mine.)
The decision to be made for her?!? At what point should she get to be part of this decision making process? So, she is old enough to decide whether or not to abide by parental consent or to go through a court process, old enough to argue her case before a judge, old enough to be making decisions about her reproductive capacity, but not old enough to decide whether to carry out the pregnancy? Huh.
Ridiculous then claims that “Many states have parental notification laws, and their (sic) has been no increase in back alley abortions since they were enacted. There have been lowered teen pregnancy, abortion and childbirth. There have been lowered rates of STDs. There has been zero evidence that these laws have done anything but good.” These are odd (and false) declarations given that STI rates are up, teen pregnancy rates are up, and that evidence indicates more teens that live in states with parental consent laws are traveling out of state to have abortions and/or are delaying abortions past the 8th week. For discussions of the negative impacts in other states as will as the implications of passing such a law in California, see, for example, here, here, here, here, and here.
Ridiculous then notes that “12 of the 13 states with lowest rates of teen pregnancy have parental notification laws in action. That stat, courtesy of your friends at planned parenthood if you read their charts.” Well, as said chart was not linked, I could not find it to verify. Though, at the Planned Parenthood cite, one can read for hours the reasons why parental consent laws are harmful. For example:
In Minnesota, the proportion of second-trimester abortions among minors terminating their
pregnancies increased by 18 percent following enactment of a parental notification law. Likewise, since Missouri’s parental consent law went into effect in 1985, the proportion of second-trimeste abortions among minors increased from 19 percent in 1985 to 23 percent in 1988.
Ridiculous, when you claimed abortion rates are lowered by parental consent laws, did you mean to write HEIGHTENED?
And, in Arizona, another state with parental consent laws:
According to a recent study by Dr. Madeline Zavodny, who was formerly with the Department of Economics, Occidental College, Los Angeles, “imposing a parental consent requirement for contraceptives… appears to raise the frequency of pregnancies and births among young women.”
Arizona ranks second highest in the United States in the rate of teen pregnancies, and teen pregnancy contributes to the fact that Arizona has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are also rising among Arizona teens. (see here for full article)
Ridiculous then tells me to “Get a grip. Use some stats to support the emotional crap you are spewing.” Hmmm, do you ever take your own advice?
But, wait for it, the best part is Ridiculous‘ last lines:
“These laws have not led to girls dying with coathangers sticking out of their vagina. There have been years of these in action, and you will not be able to find any evidence of harm because there has not been any.”
Wow, nice image. Discounting the millions of women who have died due to unsafe, illegal, and or self-induced abortion, the “coathangers sticking out of their vaginas” is not only insensitive, it is based on the LIE that women don’t die when access to contraception and safe abortion is limited. Perhaps you might want to read up on all the ways that females currently attempt to induce abortion globally – they do so for various, complex reasons – and resort to putting corrosive substances into their vagina, taking pills, and yes, using hangers, knitting needles, and other implements. See, for example, here, here, and here.
As for not being able to find any evidence of harm, this I assume is meant for those people who are not reading up on the issue but merely taking anti-choicers rhetoric as true. There is all sorts of evidence of harm of various kinds – physical, emotional, psychological. The American Psychological Association, for example, notes that:
Parental notification and consent laws can have harmful psychological and health consequences for the minors affected by these laws. By restricting adolescent access to confidential contraceptive services, these laws can result in an increased number of unintended pregnancies.
These laws often have the following additional unintended effects:
- Delayed timing of contraceptive services and/or abortion, which increases health risks and expenses (Ambuel, 1995; Lieberman & Feierman, 1999; Melton, 1987; Pliner & Yates, 1992);
- Stress, fear, and anxiety for those adolescents who go to court to obtain a judicial bypass for an abortion (Crosby & English, 1991; O’Keefe & Jones, 1990);
- Intrafamilial conflict in abusive homes (Ambuel, 1995; Melton, 1987; O’Keefe & Jones, 1990); and
- Restriction of adolescent access to abortion resulting in teenage parenthood or the use of dangerous extralegal methods of abortion (Crosby & English, 1991; O’Keefe & Jones, 1990).
And, as noted at the Medscape website: “Opponents of parental consent and notification measures include the American Medical Association (and respective state medical associations), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.” Yet, while these institutions as well as many others (such as American Psychological Association, Catholics for Choice, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice) support a female’s right to choose, those shouting the loudest against choice are coughing up big bucks to take us back to pre-Roe days.
Ridiculous refers to one of these loud anti-choicers, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the author of “Confessions of an Ex-Abortionist.” In this piece, Nathanson notes he was one of the founders of NARAL in 1968. He converted to Catholocism in 1996 and is now avidly anti-choice. For a taste of Nathanson’s changed beliefs, consider the following quote:
“I believe with all my heart that there is a divinity of existence which commands us to declare a final and irreversible halt to this infinitely sad and shameful crime against humanity.”
Note that this quote (and the entire piece) never consider the “divinity of existence” of the mother – no, as per usual, only the “unborn child” is divine. Is the control of women’s bodies, the massive rapes that occur in our patriarchal society (with the complicity of religion, Catholicism included), and the lies hawked about reproduction, not also an “infinitely sad and shameful crime against humanity”? Nope, sorry, the womenz don’t matter, only the divine little babes. Note also, as per usual, the loudest anti-choice voices are male…
The Protect Teen Safety: Vote No on 4 cite further reveals the male dominance in the anti-choice crusade:
“The anti-choice Knights of Columbus just donated $175,000 to the proponents of Prop 4, joining two anti-choice extremists – Jim Holman and Don Sebastiani in financing this latest dangerous parental notification initiative. They are not only anti-choice, they are anti-contraception, anti-family planning, and anti-comprehensive sex education.”
As cited at Ballotpedia.org
“Don Sebastiani is one of two chief financial backers of the California Waiting Period and Parental Notification Initiative (2008). As of April 14, 2008, Sebastiani and Jim Holman had donated approximately $1.8 million to this year’s effort.”
For very scary facts about these huge male financiers of anti-choice, see here. (For just a taste of the scariness: Holman, known as “The Catholic Crusader of Coronado,” has been arrested for blocking access to clinics and also bit a security guard at clinic. For more on who is behind the Yes on 4 Prop, see here.)
If you find it ridiculous that a female’s right to choose is being chipped away state by state (as well as globally), if you think a female, any female, should be able to decide what to do with her own body and its reproductive capacity, vote NO on 4.
If you are able to donate funds to help defeat proposition 4 (to match the big money of the rich males above — who, guess what?!?!? — will never themselves face an unplanned pregnancy) you can donate here. You can also sign a No on 4 pledge and find more information at the Feminist Majority Foundation cite here.
My godess, when will the fight for a woman to be able to make decisions regarding her own body be absolute? Get your damn state, nation, and religion the fuck out of my uterus!!!!