Parental Notification, a New Reality in Alaska

30 Aug

If you are a teen in Alaska, click here for more information about your rights under this new law.

Last Tuesday in Juneau Alaska, it was announced that a battle was lost for women’s rights; Ballot Measure 2 was approved by voters. As a result, any person under the age of 17 wishing to have an abortion will have to wait 48 hours before having the procedure, while her doctor notifies at least one parent. If the doctor cannot make telephone contact with a parent, Ballot Measure 2 states that they are to continue to “call, in not less than two-hour increments, for not less than five attempts in a 24-hour period.” This will be putting a huge amount of pressure on the doctor who will likely have to adjust previously booked appointments so that they may call the women’s parents no less than five times a day. If the doctor does not follow these procedures, he or she will face criminal felony charges. The only way the teen’s parents would not have to be notified is if she goes before a judge and asks permission to get an abortion. Though the teen’s parents do not necessarily have to approve of her choice, they must be notified. After that, the judge may let her doctor proceed without notifying her parents. Two days after the doctor notifies her parents or she goes before a judge, she may finally be allowed to exercise her reproductive rights and have an abortion.

The majority of teens, who have an abortion, do voluntarily involve at least one parent in the process. Therefore the fact that a teen has not already told one of her parents shows it is likely to be dangerous for her family to know she is planning an abortion. More than 20% of young women, who choose not to tell their family about their abortion, do so because of fear that they may be kicked out of the house. Another 8% choose not to tell their family for fear of physical abuse, because they have been abused in the past. Even if she was not being abused, the outcome of her being forced to inform her parents would most likely be an unparallel amount of anguish and stress to everyone involved. To better understand what this would be like I reached out to several female teens who have a better understanding of what this would be like.

I posed the question to one teen named Jessica*: “What would happen to you if you were pregnant? What would your first step be, and who would you tell?” She said that she would first call her boyfriend Seth* to tell him. They have already discussed what would happen if she got pregnant and both have agreed that abortion would be the way to go, though Seth was slightly uneasy about it. Then, she said she would call Planned Parenthood to schedule the procedure. We both agreed that this is what most teens wanting an abortion would do.

Next, I asked: “At what point would you tell your parents?” Jessica responded with “Never. Unless they somehow found out that I was considering abortion, I would keep it a secret. Even if they found out, I would probably lie to cover it up. They would be mad.” Jessica’s mom believes that it is not the government’s right to limit women’s reproductive rights, and admits that if she had gotten pregnant in high school she probably would have gotten an abortion. That being said, Jessica still tells me her mom would be angry at her if she had an abortion.

We’ve been talking for a while now and I ask “So what would happen if your mom found out you were going to have an abortion and you couldn’t cover it up? Like what would happen if your doctor went up to your mom and said that you were going to have an abortion in two days?” Jessica tells me her mom would “freak out” she continues to say how her mom would scream about how she shouldn’t be having sex in high school and shouldn’t be having an abortion. “All I could do is sit there and just take it” says Jessica. “She would be yelling and all I could do is sit there and pretend I didn’t care what she thought, but I really would.”

I asked the same questions to a few friends from my own high school and their responses were very similar to Jessica’s. Some of their parent’s would be supportive of their decision, but others would be mad, and in some case even kick them out of the house for having an abortion. The overall consensus was that in a few situations it might be good to have the parents notified that their daughter is having an abortion, but overall this new law will do more harm than help the teens in Alaska.

If you are a teen in Alaska, click here for more information about your rights under this new law.

*Names were changed

9 Responses to “Parental Notification, a New Reality in Alaska”

  1. Morgaine August 30, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

    I lived in a parental notification state when I was 17 and had my abortion. There was no way I could have gone to either set of parents (my parents were divorced) with my decision. My mom would have made me parent, or place the child for adoption. I didn’t want my mom to have such a major part in MY life. My mom is anti-choice, as is her husband. My dad would probably have been more supportive (and I found out my step-mom would have been amazingly supportive, but I wasn’t real close to either of them). Thankfully we lived a few hours drive away from another state which (at the time, this has since changed) did not have parental notification, so I was able to obtain my abortion without going in front of a judge. I didn’t really understand the judicial bypass system at the time, but a friend of mine had an abortion after getting judicial bypass. She ended up having to wait a little longer, and was into her second trimester before she was able to have her abortion, which caused some complications, but nothing that was life threatening. This was over ten years ago, so my details are a little foggy.

    Driving eight hours round trip to obtain an abortion was not ideal, and wouldn’t even really be an option for teenagers in Alaska. I think this is a really stupid law. Had I not seen the ad in the yellow pages advertising a clinic in another state (and stating that there was no parental notification) I would have waited until I turned eighteen to have my abortion, which would have put me way into my second trimester…instead I was able to have my abortion at seven or eight weeks, with no complications.

    I am so against parental notification, my thoughts are all jumbled, but I am so mad. I would hope that if I ever have a daughter who needs an abortion, she feels like she can come to me, but I do not want her to not get the healthcare she needs (or wants) just because she doesn’t feel like she can come to me with an unexpected, unwanted pregnancy. I want to be honest with myself, and remember what it felt like to be a scared, seventeen year old girl who was pregnant and wanted an abortion, living in a home with people who were anti-choice.

    Sorry this is so long.

  2. NewsCat September 1, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    The *only* responses I care about are the ones who say there parents would kick them out of the house or who (honestly) say their parents would have overriden their choice. (In some cases that actually means trying to force them to HAVE an abortion, but no one ever talks about that side).

    The idea that a mad parent would scream and yell “and I’d have to take it” is NOT why the parental notification laws are bad. Parents yell, parents get emotional over their kids having sex. Parents themselves don’t always know how to react to finding out their daughter is pregnant (or their son impregnated a girl). I do sometimes worry if some kids overestimate their own fear of their parents, but regardless there ARE kids who cannot tell their parents and that’s why the law is a bad idea.

    Not for the vast majority but for the exemptions.

  3. Shayna September 1, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    My overwhelming thought on this is that access to medical care should not be predicated on a teenagers’ relationship with his or her parents.

  4. Max Kamin-Cross September 2, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

    “I am so against parental notification, my thoughts are all jumbled, but I am so mad.” Couldn’t have said it better Morgaine!

    I agree NewsCat. 8% of teens say that they would by physically abused. Those are the ones that this law will hurt the most. Most parents would not hurt their children for getting pregnant. One thing many people don’t think about is that, yes, teens do overestimate how angry their parents would be but this perceived fear leads them to put of treatment. Some states have even seen a 20% or more increase in the number of 2nd trimester abortions, after similar laws have been put into effect. Though abortion is one of the safest medical procedures, complications become more likely the longer a women waits to have the procedure.

    Overall the important part is that more of these laws are not put into effect.

  5. Blue Collar Todd September 2, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    A a father I find it shameful that people actually argue that an underage girl can get a major medical procedure done without her parents knowledge. Add to that all the misinformation Planned Parenthood has been exposed putting out in Live Action’s videos. I think an issue like this will help most people see the danger of the pro-abortion movement. And that is what you are if you oppose parental notification or any restriction on abortion.

  6. Steph L. September 3, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    @Blue Collar Todd

    Looks to me you comepletely skimmied the issues in the article. Abortion is hardly the “major medical procedure” you make it out to be.
    Funny how there’s no demands for parental notification to give birth. Giving birth is far more dangerous than an abortion.
    And here’s something else for you to think about – a few years back this girl in my area got pregnant and was very afraid to tell her parents, particularly her father. Of course some naive school counselors encouraged her to be honest. Well, she didn’t have to worry about what to do after that, her father beat her so bad she was in a coma for over a week and miscarried.

  7. Jameson October 10, 2010 at 3:52 am #

    @ Steph L,

    Don’t waste your breath on Todd. Pro-liars like him genuinely don’t care that real women will be hurt by parental notification laws. Heck, he’d probably say that the poor girl who was beaten into a coma by her jerk of a father deserved what she got for being a slut and having sex outside of marriage. That’s just how pro-liars think. They’re misogynists who truly get a sick thrill out of and enjoy/feed off of the pain that others have to go through because of actions the antis inflict upon them.

    Sometimes I truly wish that all pro-liars had to suffer the exact same miseries they’d gleefully subject all women to by taking away our right to choose. Something tells me they wouldn’t be so eager then to swallow and choke down their own bitter, nasty medicine…!

  8. Michelle December 19, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I become so enraged at these laws for many different reasons. It makes my head spin just thinking about everything. But when it comes down to the laws concerning minors and abortion/reproductive rights it is very personal for me.
    I grew up in a strict Christian home where I was physically, emotionally, and verbally abused. Most of the time it was my grandmother and my uncle who carried out the abuse and my teenage years were very traumatizing for me. I am so thankful that I did not become pregnant as a teenager. My grandmother always made the comment that if I was ever to become pregnant I was to raise the baby. I had no choice whatsoever. I always mentioned adoption and it was always a flat “no”. I was never allowed birth control to help clear up really bad acne or to help with the regulate my cycles and help with extreme cramps. I was often called a slut by my grandmother and I was often times afraid to get off the school bus at the end of the day and walk to my house because I didn’t know if I had possibly said something wrong a few days before that had angered someone or someone may have been having a bad day and decided to take it out on me.
    When I first started dating my husband I was so afraid of becoming pregnant and especially if I was to become pregnant and become a mother, I was afraid that I would have my baby taken from me if I did something, anything to upset someone in my family. My family has made up so many lies about me to the point where I can not trust anyone.
    But thankfully my husband and I knew how to use condoms despite abstinence only sex-ed and we never became pregnant. Thankfully I got out of that house as soon as I turned 18 and I am so happy now. I am so happy that now I have a choice. But i always think about my experience when I think of all the young girls out there who do become pregnant in states with parental notification laws. I often wonder if there is a girl in my situation who does become pregnant but is afraid to tell her abusive parents/guardians not only that she is pregnant but wants to have an abortion. I really feel for these girls and I’m hoping that one day we can reverse the restrictions on abortion.
    When it comes down to it a woman is her own person and has to make the decision that is best for her. All women should have choice. Not just certain women.
    Sorry that I’m a little late but I just had so many feelings for this.


  1. Tweets that mention Parental Notification, a New Reality in Alaska | Abortion Gang -- - August 30, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by femmajority, Jovan Byars and MajoritySpeaks, The Abortion Gang. The Abortion Gang said: new post: Parental Notification, a New Reality in Alaska #prochoice […]

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