WASHINGTON, D.C., February 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has “reaffirmed” its opposition to parental consent laws on abortion, saying that adolescents have a “right” to get an abortion without letting their mom or dad know.
In a statement published in the February issue of Pediatrics, the AAP claims that parental notification laws “do not achieve the intended benefit of promoting family communication.”
Instead, they state, such laws “increase the risk of harm to the adolescent by delaying access to appropriate medical care or increasing the rate of unwanted births.”
They add that parental notification laws “run counter” to the ideals of “the privacy of family decision-making.”
Currently, thirty-eight states require either parental consent (26) or at least communication to the parents that their child is considering ending the life of her baby (12).
The Supreme Court has approved of parental notification laws, as long as a “judicial bypass” is also offered in tragic cases where the parent or parents may react violently.
Several doctors and pro-life groups, including the American College of Pediatricians (ACP), have issued a letter in response to the AAP's “reaffirmation,” urging the AAP to reconsider and rescind their statement.
That letter, addressed to AAP president Dr. Fernando Stein, says that the AAP's position “jeopardizes the lives and safety of children who are victims of sex trafficking or abusive relationships, forced to have abortions to cover up evidence of sexual abuse.”
Other groups who signed on to the letter include Ohio Right to Life, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Catholic Medical Association, and The National Catholic Bioethics Center, among others.
The pro-life American College of Pediatricians (ACP) is one of the leading defenders of parental notification laws.
“What are we teaching our adolescents when they find persons in authority willing to help them deceive their parents?” the ACP asks on its website.
“Intentionally removing a teen’s parent(s) from the decision-making process misleads the teen toward the false notion that parents are nonessential, simply obstructive to the process, and that the teen is completely capable of making mature, wise decisions without the parent’s advice.”
The ACP points to neuroscience research that shows that the human brain doesn't reach full maturity until the early-to-mid-20s, with the result that “teens are more likely to act impulsively, rather than with rational and goal-oriented thought.” Additionally, hormonal changes in the body during adolescence actually give teens a propensity to engage in risky behaviors.
A wealth of research has shown that many women regret their abortion later in life. The testimony of thousands of women runs counter to the AAP's claim that adolescents ultimately have no regrets when they choose abortion without parental advice.
Ironically, immediately after making the claim that a minor's abortion does not lead to regret, the AAP statement acknowledged that “some women do experience sadness, grief, and feelings of loss after the termination of a pregnancy, and some experience clinically significant disorders, including depression and anxiety.”
On their website, the ACP points to one 25-year longitudal study that found that women “who had an abortion between the ages of 15 and 25 were significantly more likely to develop mental health problems post-abortion, including depression, suicidal behaviors, and substance use disorders than those who had never been pregnant or who had been pregnant but not had an abortion.”
However, the pro-abortion AAP discounts women's experience of Post-Abortion Syndrome by claiming studies that prove it are not “well constructed,” and that other studies show that women who give birth experience similar mental health problems.
In response to the AAP's claims that parental notification laws could delay “appropriate medical care,” the ACP notes that old research in Mississippi found that parental notification caused a slight, inconsequential delay, but “more recent data does not confirm this delay. Instead, modern science confirms that parental notification reduces the rate of adolescent abortion.”
Besides reducing the abortion rate, parental involvement laws have been shown to decrease suicide and depression, according to the ACP. It cites several studies that show parental notification laws also decrease the rate of STDs.