a bird and a bottle

The Flip Side of Abortion Parental Consent Laws
February 22, 2007, 10:34 am
Filed under: feminism/s & gender, law, reproductive justice

I heard from Milby Daniel that a 13-year-old Italian girl, pregnant and desiring to carry that pregnancy to term, is being forced to have an abortion because her parents want her to.

An Italian judge has ordered a 13-year-old girl to have an abortion because her parents are opposed to their child giving birth. The decision relies on laws in Italy that give parents the final authority on making pregnancy decisions for their teenage children.

I can’t imagine a law that gives parents full control over their daughter’s reproductive autonomy. Probably the issues are less politically explosive in Italy and so the law allows parents to act in what they think is their daughter’s best interests. But it still doesn’t sit right — I’m all for parents helping their daughters and supporting their daughters through pregnancy or abortion, but a law like this seems to hearken back to a time when children were property. I don’t think most people would view their children as such anymore (as opposed to the days in which children tilled fields, worked in the home, etc.).

This young woman’s struggle is a perfect example of why birthing rights advocates and abortion rights advocates need to work together. Milby explains the interrelatedness of the two issues:

But in the pro-pregnant woman spirit, I still think that young women should be allowed to choose what happens with their bodies. Old enough to get pregnant, smart enough to make decisions. And all women should get the support they need to make decisions that are right for them. This includes 1. having the knowledge(i.e. sex ed) and equipment (i.e. birth control) to prevent pregnancy if they are sexually active and 2. full range of options in the case of pregnancy including abortion, adoption, and birth. In the case of young women, I imagine supports come in the form of childcare at schools, non-shunning by families and communities, and expanded healthcare and government assistance options. I’ve heard that there are adolescent pregnancy advocates (not necessarily advocating teen pregnancy, I assume, but rather supporting teens who do get pregnant) out there, though I haven’t had any direct introductions to these groups (with the exception of the inspiring Brooklyn Childcare Collective.)

I will acknowledge that teenage pregnancy is usually not ideal. But even as a teenager, a woman knows her body and knows her mind. She is a full moral agent; she just needs the support (not the coercion) to figure out what’s best for her. But as I’ve often said – women – particularly young women – need community support whether they choose motherhood (i.e. childcare) or abortion(i.e. medicaid funding).


3 Comments so far
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Right – and one thing I was talking to a friend about regarding family support, we know (thanks to Dorothy Roberts) that in this country that’s often difficult or impossible because so many families are broken up by DSS, drug laws, etc. So that is yet another racist, classist barrier for young women who give birth and need support, in my opinion.

Comment by MilbyDaniel

How right you are Milby (and oh how much we love Dorothy Roberts).

Comment by bean

Yhanks you9d1c7bf4311d3829185649d18c081a2f

Comment by Hi, my sites:

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