Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Good Law

From the Sun Sentinel website:

By DAVID ROYSE Associated Press Posted June 30 2005, 11:39 AM EDT

TALLAHASSEE -- Doctors will have to notify the parents of girls 17 and under who are seeking abortions starting Friday under one of several laws that go into effect.


The abortion measure followed a constitutional change that gave the Legislature the ability to put the new requirement into law _ although it has been challenged in court and could be delayed.

The law, signed earlier this year by Gov. Jeb Bush, will require doctors to phone or meet with parents of most girls 17 or under 48 hours before performing an abortion on them. If that's not possible, they can use certified mail 72 hours in advance. It wouldn't apply to girls who are married or have already had a child. The measure also lets judges grant a waiver based on a patient's best interests, her level of maturity or if she has been a victim of abuse by her parents.A similar 1999 bill was blocked by the courts, which found it violated the privacy provision in the Florida Constitution. But voters last fall approved a constitutional amendment creating an exception to the privacy guarantee.

The current measure has also been challenged in federal court, but so far it hasn't been blocked from taking effect Friday.Bush said this week that abortion is a serious medical procedure that parents ought to know about.``We're talking about allowing parents _ not to give their consent _ but to be notified,'' Bush said. ``To be notified if a child is having an abortion.... It is a very serious operation.''Abortion opponents say it could be dangerous for young women, particularly those who may be in unstable families.``The law really endangers the lives and health of young women,'' Stephanie Grutman, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Florida, said Tuesday. ``It has provisions in it that do not allow doctors to use their best judgment.''

As if doctors really have a judgment call to make. I've never heard of any doctor refusing a patient an abortion--he may have to refer to a specialist, but my understanding is that the patient has a right to an abortion if she wants one. So where does the doctor's judgment come in? They don't notify anybody's parents now. They can't. Even if a parent calls and asks if their daughter had an abortion, it is a violation of privacy law to answer that question. So how does this new law take away a doctor's judgment? I guess my point is this: you want an abortion, you call the clinic, make an appointment, and you do it. That's it. There's no judgment call in it for anyone except the girl-- who is a minor, mind you. This law only applies to single girls under 18. And the parents still don't have to give consent, they are merely informed. Really, the double standard here is ridiculous. You can't give a child any kind of medical treatment (with the exception of emergency life-saving care) without parental consent. Parents have to sign forms so that their children can use their asthma inhalers in school for crying out loud! I'm sorry that you are afraid to tell your parents. I'm sure it is a terrifying and horrible thing to do. But not telling them doesn't change the reality of the situation: an underaged girl making a life or death decision that will effect her emotional and physical health forever. I'd say she could use a little help with that.

1 comment:

Jeni said...

Amen