Alaskans to vote Aug. 24 on parental notice
By PATRICIA COLL FREEMAN
In Alaska, body piercing practitioners aren’t allowed to prick the belly button of a 13-year-old girl without her parent’s consent and presence. Public schools won’t transport 12-year-olds to the Anchorage Museum on a field trip without parental permission. But abortionists may anesthetize and perform surgical abortions on those same girls without telling their parents.
For the last year, Alaskans across the state have worked to change state law to strengthen parental rights. Due to their efforts, an initiative will appear on the Aug. 24 primary election ballot, asking voters to decide whether abortionists should be required to notify the parent of a minor girl — under age 18 — before performing an abortion on her.
Parents have a right to be involved in their minor daughters’ lives – and those girls are owed their parents, one Proposition 2 supporter and parent told the Catholic Anchor.
Those who keep parents in the dark about children’s abortions are infringing on parents’ rights, explained the mother who asked to be referred to as “Anna.”
For Anna, the need for parental notice laws has hit home – and hard.
Anna’s daughter, who the Anchor has identified as “Jane” was like many teens. In the winter of 2008, she started hanging out with someone her parents didn’t approve of.
Anna and her husband tried to steer Jane away from the young man, but he had become part of her group of friends.
Months later, Anna took Jane for a drive into the Mat-Su Valley in an effort to reach her increasingly distant daughter. Anna could tell something was weighing on Jane’s mind.
Finally, at lunch, Jane admitted, “There’s something I need to tell you.”
Jane wrote a message on a napkin and slid it across the table. “I’m pregnant,” it said.
Already having guessed it with a “mom’s intuition,” Anna said she responded gently: “Okay. So what are your plans? What are you thinking?”
“I’m going to have this baby,” said the resolute teen.
“Well, good!” Anna responded happily.
“She had our love and support,” Anna said.
Anna recalled that over the ensuing weeks, Jane was excited. She returned from an ultrasound appointment with images of her unborn daughter — one for every member of the family, each addressed to the new grandparents and aunts and uncles. Anna’s read, “Hi, Grandma!” And the family went shopping for maternity clothes and baby gifts.
But not everyone welcomed the new baby.
Jane told Anna that the boyfriend’s father had offered her $5,000 to abort. But Jane was adamant to give birth to the baby.
When the offer rose to $10,000, Anna and her husband were again concerned for their impressionable daughter and reminded her, “We’re here to support you. We’re here to help you,” Anna said.
But soon, the boyfriend had convinced Jane to move out and in with him.
‘DON’T TELL YOUR FAMILY’
Then came the boyfriend’s “speech.”
It began with, “Don’t tell your family,” explained Anna, who with Jane, later found the boyfriend’s highly crafted, typewritten draft.
“Here is the need for parental notification,” Anna stressed. “Manipulative boyfriend. ‘Don’t tell.’”
“Isn’t that what every abuser does to his victim — gets them into a ‘Don’t tell’ situation?’” Anna observed.
She said the boyfriend went on to warn Jane that if she had the baby, he’d lose out on medical school and they’d end up poor in a trailer. He urged her to abort for the sake of “our children” — the children planned for later.
Anna said her daughter resisted, still insisting that she could have her baby.
Across the next weeks, the boyfriend began acting despondent. Finally, he told Jane she had two weeks to get an abortion or he would kill himself, Anna recalled.
“I finally said, ‘OK,’” Jane later explained to her mother. “I didn’t say, ‘Yes.’”
The boyfriend flew Jane to Seattle, where Alaska abortion clinics often refer late-term pregnant mothers. As with Alaska, Washington does not require abortion practitioners to notify a minor girl’s parent before performing an abortion on her.
The day of the secret abortion, Jane was 17 years old. Her unborn baby daughter was heading into her sixth month.
And because of the abortionist’s silence, Anna believes her own rights as a mother were sacrificed that day, too.
THE RIGHT OF A PARENT
In the United States, the right of parents to care for their minor child has always been considered paramount.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court called that right “perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court” and one that reflects the culture’s long-held principles about the family.
As an example, parents — not aunts, boyfriends or school counselors — are morally and legally responsible for their child’s medical care. That’s the case even when a child requires follow-up care to an abortion parents weren’t informed of.
“Who we are comes out of our family,” said Anna. “We come out of our parents … and they know us at so many levels better (than we know ourselves). They raised us, they gave birth to us, they’ve seen us grow, they’ve seen us change.”
In Alaska, the long-held principle of parental rights is suspended when a minor heads into an abortion clinic — despite strong public support for parental involvement.
In 1997, the Alaska State Legislature overwhelmingly passed legislation requiring parental consent before minors’ abortions. But in November 2007 – by a 3-2 vote – Alaska’s Supreme Court overturned it.
Still, some believe Chief Justice Dana Fabe — who voted against the consent law – left the door open for one requiring only notice.
In the majority opinion, Fabe wrote, “contrary to the arguments of Planned Parenthood, we determine that the constitution permits a statutory scheme which ensures that parents are notified so that they can be engaged in their daughters’ important decisions in these matters.”
Even the U.S. Supreme Court — including then-Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter – acknowledged that parental involvement laws “are based on the quite reasonable assumption that minors will benefit from consultation with their parents and that children will often not realize that their parents have their best interests at heart.’’
Across the U.S., there are parental notice or consent laws on the books in more than 30 states.
Parental notification opponents — like Planned Parenthood of Anchorage, an affiliate of the nation’s billion-dollar abortion operation — argue that parental involvement laws wrongly “mandate” communication between parent and child and put girls in abusive situations at risk.
Heidi Navarro disagrees. She is the client services director at CPC of Anchorage – a pregnancy help center that provides free pregnancy tests, counseling, parenting classes, material support, STD testing and ultrasounds to women and girls in crisis. The CPC sees about a thousand clients a year. In 2009, 172 girls, ages 15-19, came to the CPC for help – and 7 under the age of 15.
Navarro estimates about a third of those girls don’t have good relationships with their parents and some of them are “couch-surfing” between friends’ houses.
Navarro believes a parental notification law would help open the lines of communication to parents – and the lack of a law only keeps those girls isolated.
Abortion is “such a big decision and has such a huge impact in someone’s life … the parent should offer some guidance in that area,” Navarro explained.
As to girls who feel their parents shouldn’t be informed for fear of harm, Proposition 2 lays out a bypass in which the authorities are also alerted to the abuse.
Such a provision would provide “accountability” for the abused girl, explained Navarro. The authorities need to “come into her life and put her in a safer environment — and her siblings, as well,” Navarro continued.
Navarro believes secret abortions don’t stop abuse, but instead enable abusers — whether a parent or boyfriend — to continue hurting girls.
In fact, statutory rape is rampant. The majority of teen mothers are impregnated by adult men.
One study of 46,500 school-age mothers in California found that two-thirds of the girls were impregnated by adult men, with the median age of 22 years.
And there is growing evidence that some abortion providers actually encourage covering up that abuse.
Over the last several years, Live Action, a student-run pro-life investigative group has garnered national media attention for its undercover investigations of the abortion industry. In one series of investigations, a college student posed as a 13-year-old girl who had sexual relations with 31-year-old man. At several Planned Parenthood clinics, employees were videotaped saying they didn’t want to hear anything more or they “don’t care” about the age difference.
If Proposition 2 passes in Alaska, Bill Donovan, the director of CPC of Anchorage, thinks the only ones who would lose out are the abortion clinics.
When parents know their minor daughter is headed there, he believes “there’s a good chance they’ll convince the girl not to have the abortion, and so they’ll lose money on that.”
For more information at the parental notification initiative, visit alaskansforparentalrights.org. For information on where to vote August 24, visit: elections.alaska.gov/ei_primary.php.