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Archive for June, 2011

Parental Consent

Friday, June 10th, 2011

This is not a story of my own abortion, but of my daughters. She’s seventeen and she recently, without telling either her father or I, had an abortion by getting a judge to waive the parental involvement laws that, in the state we live in, mandate that a youth younger than eighteen receive parental agreement to their child’s choice to abortion. I only found this out by finding paperwork from a clinic detailing the results of her pregnancy test and pre-op information for her abortion. When I found the paperwork, I was initially livid- why would she do this without discussing it with us? How could she have gotten herself in this situation? I remember thinking- she’s such a good girl- while knowing that “good girl” or not, everyone makes mistakes. After the anger subsided, I was heartbroken. I’m her mother, and I’m a woman. I could’ve helped her, I could’ve made it easier for her and nursed her back to health, emotionally and physically. I could’ve explained to her that she doesn’t need to hide this decision, this huge part of her life- that her father and I would understand. I cried for days and was unable to look at her or hold a conversation with her.

Finally, because I couldn’t hold it in anymore, I sat her down and gently asked her why she did this without telling me or her father. She immediately started crying, which only made me cry, and said that she was embarrassed and ashamed and didn’t want to disappoint us or let us down. It broke my heart and I tried my best to explain to her that we wouldn’t have judged her, that we would’ve supported her decision and that she could’ve put herself at risk by not telling us.

It was a good moment and opened a new form of communication between us, but it also made me consider issues I’ve never thought of before. The shame and embarrassment surrounding abortion alienates people, especially women, and the states that require parental consent for abortion can easily lead to desperate, misinformed teens making bad and dangerous decisions. It’s important that we culturally move past the shame surrounding abortion and learn to speak freely about it- with our daughters and our mothers, but also with the men in our lives, with our sons and brothers and fathers.