Reproductive Freedoms roundup

Australia’s abortion healthcare is superior but improvement has stalled due to stigmas on training programmes:

It shows that the most common [abortion] complications occur far less frequently in Australia than in other western countries.

Only 0.2 of every 1,000 abortions failed at the Australian clinic – 10 times lower than the US and UK rates.

Repeat surgery to remove extra tissue was carried out in 1.1 of every 1,000 cases, also significantly less than other countries.

The other most common complication, damage to the uterus during surgery, occurred in 0.5 of every 1,000 cases, again an improvement on most other nations.

But the government funded Pregnancy Counselling Programme begins next week, which excludes abortion-referring counsel services from funding:

A new government-funded pregnancy counseling program designed to help pregnant women find abortion alternatives will begin next week. Women on Medicare will be able to get counseling from the program three times during their pregnancy.
The program is part of a $50 million package the Australian government announced to try to cut the abortion rates following the parliament’s approval of the dangerous abortion drug RU 486. Parliament gave authority over the drug to a governmental agency and removed it from pro-life Health Minister Tony Abbott.

From Latin America:

Nicaragua joins El Salvador and Chile as the only countries in the western hemisphere to ban abortion without exception.

Protests in Nicaragua
Men dressed as priests protest in support of therapeutic abortion in Nicaragua

And in the ongoing reproductive rights wars in the States:

In The Oregonian, referring to a controversial bill before the legislature requiring minors to notify parents of their pregnancy before seeking abortion:

Parental-notification laws are worth rejecting on purely libertarian grounds. Private and wrenching medical decisions don’t get magically easier by turning them into matters of public morality.

Some data from Florida after a similiar law was passed – some of the respectable conservatives agitating for such laws might be shocked to know which girls are seeking the abortions and waivers to the parenta-notification requirement.

The success rates are similar statewide: Only 27 girls out of the 450 were denied in the first year.

Few girls in Palm Beach County are telling judges they fear their parents will abuse them. More often, they say they fear their parents’ reaction or can’t face them after making such an embarrassing mistake. Teens seeking the waiver tend to be smart, attractive and ambitious, judges say – not the kind of girls who are used to letting anyone down.

Categories: gender & feminism

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5 replies

  1. Hi!
    Found your (older) blog – thanks for keeping it up! I was looking for information on foetal brain waves and your entry gave me just the information I wanted.
    We are having a discussion at the Concord Party on the topic in general – obviously a hard one to plow through.
    In response to this post, I can tell you that I generally agree with US parental notification rules, as I don’t see a reason why this should be an exception to any other health issue. We assume that parents must be notified to make decisions for children and generally watch out for their welfare. If that’s embarassing or has repercussions for the pregnant teen – that’s too bad.
    That said, I voted against the California referendum, as there were so many loopholes as to make the law pointless, but expensive for doctors to attmept to comply with.

  2. That’s an argument I do have some sympathy with, Eric. But it doesn’t entirely convince me.
    The unique problem with abortion is that girls who don’t want to tell their parents will go to illegal lengths to obtain an abortion anyway if they can’t get one legally without parental notification. That’s simply not a problem with any other medical procedure I can think of – if your parents won’t let you get breast implants at age 15, it’s not the end of the world to wait until you’re 18.
    Also, I believe the laws on parental consent to medical treatment generally allow for exceptions if the parents refuse treatment for religious reasons and are thus putting their child’s life at risk. As abortion, while not risk-free, is always less risky than completing a pregnancy, then abortion would appear to fall into a category close to these situations, and thus parental notification is an injust imposition.

  3. Good points, and thanks for making them. Granted, I can think of few medical problems other than abortion where the parent might not be on the child’s side and relatively supportive of them. Substance abuse is one, as is treatment for STDs.
    Elective procedures clearly require oversight, as you’ve pointed out. Teens being given body-altering surgery should probably be encouraged to wait out the insecure teen years.
    I wonder if it is worthwhile to make a distinction between parental notification and parental approval. Notification doesn’t imply the ability to refuse, does it? I’d generally support the idea of notification without oversight – the teen in question really does need an interested adult to help deal with the aftermath and avoidance of future problems – don’t they?

  4. I’d generally support the idea of notification without oversight – the teen in question really does need an interested adult to help deal with the aftermath and avoidance of future problems – don’t they?
    Do they? And if they do, why does that have to be the parent? Teens may have good reason to fear their parents, mightn’t they?

  5. I think what annoys me most about parental notification laws is that they impose a standard of notification upon all teenagers, regardless of circumstances. No one is suggesting that teenagers in an ideal world make these decisions alone, I would hope my kid could come to me in the event of an unplanned pregnancy (or STDS for that matter), but I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that my happy family situation is true of all families.
    It’s particularly disturbing when a teen pregnancy may be the result of abuse (which is usually perpetrated by someone known to the victim) and notification might place them at increased risk. It seems far more important to me that we have systems in place for at risk teenagers to get neutral support from people outside the home. Those support agencies might encourage teenagers to include their parents (or another trusted family member) in decision making, and ongoing care, but it shouldn’t be compulsory.
    The other thing that annoys me is that compulsory notification only applies to teenage girls. And teenage boys must be at least half responsible.

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