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Will parental consent make any difference to abortion rates?

A common question regarding parental consent is whether it targets abortion, or in any way reduces the number of abortions performed. Some argue that parents could coerce or encourage their daughter into having an abortion when she would otherwise want to keep her baby. Others question the need for parental support, pointing to the fact that these girls aren’t really alone at all; their experience is increasingly common. A British Columbia abortion clinic aims to comfort anxious teens with the statistic that “about half of pregnant teenagers choose to have an abortion. About 20,000 teenagers have abortions in Canada each year.”

It’s true that these teenagers aren’t alone – each is in the company of about 19,999 other girls who felt they had no choice but to end a developing life in the pursuit of their own best life. That means all of these 20,000 girls called an abortion clinic, made an appointment, and followed through with the medication or surgery needed to end her pregnancy. It’s quite possible that many of those girls told their parents, and many likely did it with their parents’ consent. So how does requiring parental consent help anyone?

Legislation requiring parental consent for abortion helps in one crucial way. Parental consent is a requirement that comes into play after a girl has already sought out or requested an abortion. She is not being brought in or coerced by her parents – though it is quite likely someone has a hand in coercion and pressure, as is evident in stories like Joanne’s. Parental consent adds a mature voice that may not have been present up to this point, the voice of someone who cares deeply for the well-being of the girl involved. While some parents may indeed consent without hesitation, there will be others who uphold everything the pro-life movement stands for. These are parents who offer unwavering support, encouragement, help finding and accessing resources, and the invaluable unconditional love that only parents can provide.  No boyfriend, peer, or abortion clinic counsellor can adequately provide those things. Parents are in the best possible place to understand parenting, to understand the love a parent can feel for a child, and to cross any hurdle necessary to give a child his or her best chance at life.

Parental consent can only reduce abortions, never increase them. The minors involved are already seeking an abortion, and all too often are feeling terrified, desperate, and alone. Involving parents (or, in rare cases, judicial consent) provides these girls an opportunity for true choice within a support system that is unrivaled. Parents must take this responsibility seriously, and hold their daughters’ trust gently. This informed, collaborative decision making may well be the difference between a desperate decision that forever ends a life and the brave decision that allows that life to be lived and loved.

This public awareness campaign is a joint effort between Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association and WeNeedaLAW.ca. For more information please contact us here.

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