|Californians for Parental Rights||
On Parental Notification
Your heart may be broken but you love her...
The following was sent to us On December 5 by Steven Braatz, M.D. Fellow, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Captain, Medical Corps, USN, Retired.
Dr. Braatz practices in Susanville, Calif. He has agreed to serve on the speakers bureau of Californians for Parental Rights.
I have some thoughts I’d like to share with you about parental notification before a minor is subjected to an abortion. Before I address the issue directly, a little background is important to understand.
I am an ObGyn physician. I have often cared for women at the point of making decisions about an unwanted pregnancy. I have cared for women who decided to abort, for women who decided to adopt, and for women who have kept their babies. I have cared for women after abortion, some of whom have had complications. I am committed to compassionate, nonjudgmental care of my patients. With this approach, I have always asked this open ended question: “How do you feel about abortion?” I ask it without revealing anything of my own views. I just ask the simple question. Now keep in mind, I’m not asking the average woman on the street, or at a political rally, I am asking a woman who has just found out that she has a life in her womb, a life she did not want or plan for. When I ask this question, “How do you feel about abortion?” I almost invariably hear something like this: “Well, I don’t believe in abortion but…” or “I think it is wrong, but…” and then I hear about the circumstances and pressures that are forcing her to consider abortion. One can only imagine the additional pressures a pregnant teenager feels. A patient recently wrote me a letter about coercion she experienced as a teen:
“I had my first daughter when I was 16. Her father was a drug addict and alcoholic. I had no support, my mother never wanted me and my dad and I are close now but not at the time. I got pregnant again by another guy when my daughter was 4 mo. old. I didn’t and don’t believe in abortion. I was uneducated and didn’t have a job and my daughter’s father’s family pretty much told me that if I didn’t get rid of the baby they would take my daughter. I remember the day so well after 28 yrs. They told me, “put your gown on and we will be with you.” I was crying and they asked, “Why?” I said I don’t believe in abortion. Their reply was, “it’s not a baby yet, just a bunch of cells.” I knew better. They took me in the operating room and just as they were putting me out, I wanted to scream, “No!” Next thing I knew they woke me up, handed me a towel, and told me to clean myself up and get dressed as I had blood pouring down my legs. I have prayed and asked for forgiveness but it still lays heavy on my heart.”
So you see the tremendous pressure many women feel in this time of crisis. I have come to the conclusion that having an abortion is a very hard thing for a woman to do and, in fact, many, if not most, women have abortions despite their own personal conviction that it is wrong. This troubles me greatly. One can surely understand why a teenager might overlook considering all of her options, neglect telling her parents, and be susceptible to coercion.
With this background, let us consider the issue of parental notification. Parenting is important. You teach your children right and wrong. You teach them to be honest. You set a good example for them. You help them develop good character, courage, and perseverance. You teach them the value of hard work. You help them develop social skills, and guide them through life’s difficult moments. I like to tell young couples, “There is no substitute for actually being there when your child comes home having been in his first fight with a bully at school. It is so important to actually be there when your daughter learns she didn’t make the cheerleading squad. Your child needs you to be right there for them when they learn that grandma is terminally ill.” It is during these critical times of crisis that we as parents need to be involved with our children. Families are the foundation of our society. Families are important. Parents are important. I would even say that raising your children well is the most important work you can do in life.
If your daughter becomes pregnant and is experiencing the kind of crisis I’ve described, then you want to know about it. You love her. Your heart may be broken but you love her and want the very best for her. You will help her through this crisis. You’ll forgive her if the doctor is the one who notifies you of the upcoming abortion instead of your daughter. You’ll just be glad you learned about it beforehand. You’ll sit down with her and together you will make the right decision. And you’ll be closer than ever before. Should the State be able to deprive you of this?
Furthermore, let us not forget that abortion is invasive. It is not just “birth control” or “family planning.” Whether we talk about medical or surgical abortion, we are now considering an invasive procedure from which complications and deaths have occurred. Can you imagine coming home and finding your daughter in bed, pale and unconscious, with blood all over her bed? You didn’t even know that she’d just come from the abortion clinic. You call an ambulance but you don’t know what to tell the paramedics…she’s in trouble and you’re totally ignorant of what she’s been through.
If a child has appendicitis, an appendectomy may be performed. Appendectomy requires consent of a parent unless the situation is emergent and delay will lead to injury or death for the minor patient. Appendectomy can be life-saving but sometimes complications ensue: infection, bleeding, blood transfusion, or intestinal injury. Abortion may also involve complications: infection, bleeding, blood transfusion, uterine perforation, or even bowel injury. A doctor must have your consent to remove an organ from your daughter; certainly that doctor should have at least notified you before removing a baby from your daughter!
These opinions are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, of whom I am a Fellow.
From front lines