I’m pro-choice. That doesn’t necessarily mean pro-abortion, as discussed earlier: it means I think that the woman who is pregnant is the one who gets to make the decisions.
But with regard to teenagers who get pregnant: I’d counsel very strongly towards having an abortion, and the younger the teenager, the more strongly.
Reason one, and the single most important one: Getting pregnant too young is bad for your long-term health. There are no circumstances under which an early abortion wouldn’t be far better for the teenager’s health than carrying a pregnancy to term.
Reason two: None of the options for a teenage mother – especially one too young to have a legal full-time job – are good. The pro-lifers who think teenage girls can be used as surrogates to produce healthy babies for their adoption industry, are the most callously damaging, but none of the other prospects are particularly good either – a teenager who has a strong supportive family behind her, willing to provide free childcare and financial support, may still manage to get the education she needs to get a job to be able to support her child, but the odds are against her.
So: a teenager who’s pregnant, ought to be told her first, best choice would be to have an early abortion. (And yes: there are circumstances under which I’d say that a parent is justified in ignoring a 13-year-old girl’s arguments that ABORTION IS MURDER, supposing she comes up with them, and saying firmly “We’re going to the clinic, you’re talking to the counselor” – the doctor shouldn’t perform the abortion against the girl’s will, but the parents should absolutely be doing everything possible to encourage the girl to do the right thing and agree to terminate. Including finding this 13-year-old an afternoon job in a baby nursery wiping up vomit, shit, and other baby messes.)
What if the teenager has unsupportive, abusive parents who think she should have the baby whether or not she wants to do that, and plan to force her to abandon the baby to the adoption industry?
Well, then the teenager should be supported by the law, medical ethics, and humanity, against her abusive parents: she should be able to have an abortion without her parents knowing about it. (Most of the time, I think, most parents would do the right thing even if initially they got mad at their daughter: but a child who says firmly that she doesn’t want her parents to know, may well have good reason to think her parents would be abusive.) Laws that force the government into the parent-child relationship, that require parental consent before medical staff can provide a pregnant teenager with the abortion she needs, are vile and inethical.
As Harriet Jacobs at Fugitivus says, the thunderous conclusion of a fantastic post that outlines how parental notification laws actually work to harm children by denying them essential medical services:
So, welcome to the reality of legal restrictions on medical services to teenagers! This is a thing to keep in mind whenever you read about a new law taking shape or being passed. If the new law does not explicitly identify standards and procedures, and if it does not explicitly identify service providers, and if those service providers do not actually exist in your community, you now have a pretty good idea of the intentions of the lawmakers. Passing a law that is undefined and inaccessible is passing a law you don’t want to see enforced. When lawmakers passed this notification law, they didn’t want girls to actually be able to acquire bypasses. They didn’t even care if girls notified their parents. If they had cared about these things, the law would have actually addressed what “notification” means, what “parents” mean, and who provides bypasses. It did not address these things, because these were not the things lawmakers actually wanted to see happen. The lawmakers purposefully made a law where it is impossible to ensure compliance, but is entirely possible to be punished for non-compliance. They made it this way because they did not want to see compliance. They wanted to see a full stop.
They wanted to see teenagers forced into either having illegal abortions or having babies they did not want and could not support, to provide products for an industry valued at $1.4 billion.