Abortion & Parental Consent
June 2, 2009 § 2 Comments
Go read this: I helped teenagers get secret abortions.
The author, SteelRigged, reflects on their experience working for a Texas nonprofit called Jane’s Due Process, which is one of few if not “the only organization in the country that helps teens navigate the judicial bypass process to get abortions without parental consent or notification.”
The very first call I took at Jane’s Due Process (again: Google [it] and [donate] money) was from a 17 year old who said bluntly, “My mom’s in jail and my dad’s in Iraq” she was living with her older sister who was 22, but the clinic were not allowed to accept the sister’s consent because she was not the legal guardian. Both sisters thought they could get either of their parents to consent, but there was a timing issue. My state only allows abortions up to 21 weeks. It routinely took two or three months for mail to circulate from the base address the girls had to the frontlines where their father was, and then back to them. Their mother, they said, couldn’t receive registered letters at all. So, by the time the permission form got back, a legal abortion would be unavailable. We set her up with a lawyer to try and get a bypass.
These, the author writes, are the “easy cases.”
I even sent a girl to Kansas once; she was a marathon runner and a track star. She lost her period every year during training season and so really did not know she was pregnant until the middle of the second trimester. Her parents were hard core religious, and she knew that they would turn her out on the streets no matter what happened with the pregnancy. She didn’t want to be homeless.
None of these teens get to speak out. We get to pass laws that endanger their lives, but they can’t protest…I don’t have a T.V. show, I don’t have security guards, all I have is the residual fear that somewhere there is a man with a gun, looking for our office, who is absolutely certain he has the right to shoot me, because I help teenagers get abortions.
This absolutely necessary piece dispels the myth that teenage women make “secret” decisions because we’re stupid, sly sluts. It’s not like we keep these decisions from our parents because we love the thrill of rebellion. We stay quiet because people like Bill O’Reilly and Mike Galanos try to speak for us. We keep secrets because our parents, like our government, do not respect us; because the only people we can truly trust are ourselves; because our lives depend on the silence and shame.
Young women, like other particularly marginalized groups (women of color; disabled, queer, poor, and immigrant women; many many many others) are an easy target. We need to speak up and keep telling the world that we do not take our personal decisions lightly, and that our conviction does not conform to age restriction laws.