The case of children /young women using their school councillors as a resource to source options for an unwanted pregnancy has had a lot of time in the media. One of the trends in comments from pro-choice and pro “support in schools for all options” has been the concept that teens use the school because home is not a safe environment.
I balked at that, because my own experience of using school support networks was in preference to admitting to my parents that I was not coping. It was my first experience with depression and the first thing the councillor did was hold my hand while I called my mother and admitted I couldn’t do this alone.
I still count my blessings that my parents’ response was one of support, and my family stood by me while I made decisions around staying in school or not, remaining a prefect or not, continuing competitive activities or not.
So while I realise that many, many young people struggle to find safe places and supportive people in their lives, withholding information is not necessarily a sign of dysfunction or abuse.
So when we discuss children requiring the notification of parents before accessing an abortion I have to ask...
If it is so the parents can have a say, then no. No, no, NO!
I say no for so many reasons, and most of them have been expressed beautifully elsewhere.
Take a peek at Boganette
Or Luddite journo
Or Ideologically impure
Or over on life is a feminist issue
There is a lot of murmur on the blogosphere around this topic and I don’t need to rehash it.
The other logical (and not unreasonable) reason is that young people going through an experience like pregnancy/ abortion/ adoption should have support.
This I support, but not in the form of “concern trolling” where people act like they are being concerned about someone’s well being in order to maintain control (would any one like to quote some patronising pro-slavery quotes here?).
If taken at face value the key element of support can be provided by any adult in a child’s life.
I’m a support to several young people who are family friends and I really hope that they would feel safe and free from risk of judgement if they came to me.
So why not require an adult (by all means legislate the age if needed) chosen BY THE YOUNG PERSON to be notified? (Not the sexual partner of the youth if under age).
This seems to fulfil all the needs of the group.
The young person is able to access all healthcare options available.
They have a support person to assist them through the process.
There is an adult in this process.
There are SO MANY massive issues with this.
Young people may not choose the most ‘responsible’ person around.
That person may not have the young person’s best interests at heart.
That person may be involved in the relationship that led to the pregnancy.
The person may be covering for a rape that occurred.
The person may use their influence to pressure the youth to make a decision that the youth is not fully comfortable with.
Like I said; a lot of issues.
The problem is that all of the above issues apply to parents as well.
So we are back to square one...
Anyone got any good ideas?