Consenting to an abortion

Becky - posted on 11/14/2011 ( 39 moms have responded )

2,892

44

93

Another spin-off to the 10 year old mom thread, because it was briefly mentioned that she might be too young to consent to an abortion on her own.

At what age do you think a child/adolescent should be legally able to consent to an abortion, without their parents' consent or knowledge? Should any child who becomes pregnant, no matter the age, be able to consent to this? Or is there a point where they are really just too young to understand what they're consenting to and the parents need to be involved? What if the child is very young - like 10 or 11, but the parents refuse to consent for religious or other reasons? Should there be a means in place to overrule their wishes if the child does not want to carry the pregnancy, especially given the risks of pregnancy to such a young child?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Mommy - posted on 11/16/2011

328

18

2

The reason for the laws in which a child who becomes pregnant is able to consent to her own abortion, is due to the unfortunate possibility that this child may have been/is being abused, and informing the parents will lead to further trauma. If a child is 10 years old and becomes pregnant, I do believe that there needs to be someone that the child confides in, but making it so a child needs to get permission from their parent in order to go through with the procedure is also very dangerous. What if the same person who is abusing the child and impregnated her is the one that has to give consent? I am also very torn, because I don't believe that at 10 years old the child will have mastered their abstract thinking skills to the point where they will understand this will affect them forever, but I also don't think that forcing them to carry a baby to term at this age is right either.

Becky - posted on 11/15/2011

2,892

44

93

I would agree with the age for being able to consent to an abortion being the same as the age of consent for sexual activity. (although I think the age of consent in some places is ridiculously low, but that's another debate!) If a child is considered old enough to consent to sexual activity, then presumably, they are old enough to understand the potential ramifications of that activity - pregnancy, STDs, etc. Hopefully by that point they have had some education about sexuality, safety, biology, pregnancy, abortion, etc and understand the choice they are making when they make the choice between carrying the pregnancy vs. having an abortion. I just cannot imagine that a child of 10 or 11 years could possibly understand what either choice is going to mean to them. I know for myself, for example, if I had gotten pregnant at 10 (which thankfully wasn't even biologically possible!), my only thought would have been, "Cool! I love playing with babies!" I would have had absolutely no idea what a pregnancy was going to do to my body or what raising an actual baby was going to be like! Even if it is explained to them, I'm not sure a child that young has the cognitive capacity to really fully understand the potential ramifications. I think they need an adult to make that decision for them. The other thing is, if a child's parents are so opposed to abortion that they would not consent to their 10 or 11 year old child having one, it is likely that, at that age, the child shares their feelings, because it is likely that they have not yet been exposed to a lot of other opinions on the issue. So it would surprise me if a 10 year old were to say, "No mom and dad, I really want an abortion" simply because I'm not sure they would really understand it. So, I know that in Canada, Children's Services can step in, apprehend the child, and very quickly get a court order ordering medical treatment, when a child's parents refuse to obtain that medical treatment for them. While I've never heard of it being done for the purpose of obtaining an abortion for a young child, I think that in the case of a very young child - say under 13 - a case could be made for that to happen. I think that at such a young age, the risks of carrying the pregnancy and delivering the baby outweigh any trauma that could occur due to the child having the abortion, even against her parent's wishes. As opposed as I am to abortion, the idea of forcing my own 10 year old to go through 9 months of pregnancy - which was hell for me, in my 30's! - just turns my stomach. I don't think I could do it!
This is one of those situations that makes me thankful I have only boys and will never be put in the position to make that decision!

Krista - posted on 11/15/2011

12,562

16

847

Wow...a bit upset, are we?

Obviously, this topic is not cut and dry. However, I think that there is more nuance to this topic than you are willing to admit.

You're operating under that same tired old assumption that "mother knows best". And I contend that in some (not all, but some) cases, mother does NOT know best. So there have to be certain safeguards in place in our society and amongst the medical community, to disregard or override the parents' wishes, if it turns out that those wishes are not in the child's best interests.

Do I want someone intervening in my medical decisions for my kid? No. However, if I was boneheaded enough to put my ideology ahead of allowing my son to have an urgently necessary medical treatment, then it's good to know that there are provisions in place to save my child's life, despite his mother being an idiot.

Krista - posted on 11/14/2011

12,562

16

847

Sigh. This is a really, really tough one. It makes me sick to think of some 10 year old being forced to carry a baby against her will, especially as it is very likely that a pregnancy would be dangerous to someone that young.

Of course, it makes me sick to think of someone that young getting pregnant in the first place.

It's a very tricky call. If, for example, the 10 year old girl needed a blood transfusion, or she'd die within the next 9 months, but her parents were Jehovah's Witnesses and were against it, should they have the right to refuse that medical procedure on her behalf, essentially handing down a death sentence upon her? The courts HAVE ruled otherwise, so there is precedent there.

And of course, you have to look at the inverse...if the child did NOT want an abortion, should the parents have the right to force her to have one? Many people would say no -- that it should be up to her. So we can't really impose a double standard here, saying that it's the girl's decision when she wants to keep the baby, but NOT the girl's decision if she DOESN'T want to keep the baby.

Right now, I think that abortion should fall under the same laws for any other medical procedures. And right now, the way that the law works for medical procedures in Canada, is if they're over 16, they can do what they want. If they're under 16, they can have it done if they fully understand what is going on, and two doctors sign off on the fact that a) the kid understands what's going on, and b) that the procedure is in the best interest of the child's well-being.

The minor's consent isn't needed if she is unable to give consent, or if it's deemed to be emergency treatment.

And yes, it can happen where the court decides to overrule the parents' refusal, if it's deemed to be in the best interests of the child.

I think that is the right way to go about things. It is unfair for a parent to endanger his or her kid's health, for the sake of their own ideologies. If the parent only believes in herbal remedies, but the 12 year old needs heart surgery, then the kid should be able to have the heart surgery, parents be damned. And, if I decided I wanted to make my 14-year old undergo a nose job, and he didn't want to, then no, I would not have the right to force him to do so. And that's right. I don't own my kid's body -- I'm just its temporary guardian.

Minors over 16

2. The law respecting consent to medical treatment of persons who have attained the age of majority applies in all respects to minors who have attained the age of sixteen years in the same manner as if they had attained the age of majority.

Minors under 16

3. (1) The consent to medical treatment of a minor who has not attained the age of sixteen years is as effective as it would be if he had attained the age of majority where, in the opinion of a legally qualified medical practitioner or dentist attending the minor, supported by the written opinion of one other legally qualified medical practitioner or dentist, as the case may be,

(a) the minor is capable of understanding the nature and consequences of the medical treatment; and

(b) the medical treatment and the procedure to be used is in the best interest of the minor and his continuing health and well-being.

Idem

(2) The consent of a minor who has not attained the age of sixteen years or of his parent or guardian is not required in relation to medical treatment performed with respect to that minor where

(a) the minor is incapable of understanding the nature and consequences of the medical treatment or, being capable of understanding the nature and consequences of the medical treatment, is incapable of communicating his consent to the medical treatment; and

(b) a legally qualified medical practitioner or dentist attending the minor is of the opinion that the medical treatment is necessary in an emergency to meet imminent risk to the minor's life or health.

Dispensing with consent by court

4. (1) Where the consent of a parent or guardian to medical treatment of a minor is required by law and is refused or otherwise not obtainable, any person may apply to (insert court as appropriate to the jurisdiction) for an order dispensing with the consent.

Idem

(2) The court shall hear the application in a summary manner and may proceed ex parte or otherwise and, where it is satisfied that the withholding of the medical treatment would endanger the life or seriously impair the health of the minor, may by order dispense with the consent of the parent or guardian to such medical treatment as is specified in the order.

Johnny - posted on 11/15/2011

8,686

26

322

Just a disinterested third party here (who hasn't come to any conclusions on her own opinion about this thread). But having read it, I see no one here being called names. Krista is referring to people who refuse life-saving treatments for their children because of ideological concerns. I don't believe, having read the posts, that applies to anyone here at all.

39 Comments

View replies by

Sharlene - posted on 11/16/2011

3,896

241

825

Im against Abortion,But if a child that age cant consent, it should be up to the parents if child was Raped or has a serious medical condition. But like I said it's the parents choice

Stifler's - posted on 11/16/2011

15,141

154

604

I agree 100% with that Mommy A and it is most often the case that the abuser is a family member.

Jeannette - posted on 11/15/2011

911

3

78

Yes Johnny, I do believe Krista and I were just disagreeing on whether a parent should have the right to make decisions regarding medical treatment for their children. I know you are trying to clear up what I might be misunderstanding though, so thank you for that. :)

Jeannette - posted on 11/15/2011

911

3

78

I seriously, and I mean this, do not understand why you think I am being nasty towards you. Seriously, I am debating an issue here. I don't recall calling you names or saying how bad I think you are...I am debating an issue. That's it. If it were personal, I guess we'd get into name calling, but I am trying to stick to the issue.

Krista - posted on 11/15/2011

12,562

16

847

Yes, Jeannette. I do think that a parent who puts their ideology, whether religious or otherwise, ahead of their child's very life, is a bonehead and an idiot. Those are actually some of the milder terms that I could have used. And were I a parent like that, then I would fully expect authorities to intervene, to save my child from my utter lack of judgment.

I really don't understand why you're being so nasty towards me. I'm just addressing peoples' comments and trying to debate the topic. But you seem to be very insulted and offended by the fact that I feel differently than you do.

Jeannette - posted on 11/15/2011

911

3

78

Right Becky, there are many points to debate. It's been something to think about, thank you for turning the conversation interesting.

Jeannette - posted on 11/15/2011

911

3

78

"boneheaded" and "idiot" are insulting and judgment calls in the most opinionated of opinions.
So, you do not agree with someone telling you how/when to seek medical treatment for your kid. Great, we agree on that.

Jeannette - posted on 11/15/2011

911

3

78

I was replying to the tone of your text Krista. Don't like it, try a different tone.

Jeannette - posted on 11/15/2011

911

3

78

Great Krista, mind your minor children as you will.
Meanwhile in the real world...the MEDICAL COMMUNITY decides that I am the one who is capable of making medical decisions for my CHILD. Hence, all of my autographs on the medical forms.
I don't really care what the courts have 'historically' sided with anyone on. The courts have 'historically' sided with the Christians in regards to gay marriage. Are they right Krista?
And what YOU are doing in regards to your child's life and well-being is up to YOU. You wouldn't want ME dictating that to YOU now would you??

Krista - posted on 11/15/2011

12,562

16

847

And Jeanette, you're right. We DON'T agree. I don't believe that "what works for my family" should take precedence over my child's very life and well-being.

And the courts, historically, have been behind me on this one.

Krista - posted on 11/15/2011

12,562

16

847

And a followup to my question: Why is a 17.5 year old considered by you to be completely and utterly incapable of making any of his own medical decisions, but an 18 year old is? What magical, mystical thing takes place on their 18th birthday that suddenly makes them completely capable of making their own medical choices, when the very day before, only Mommy could do that for them?

Krista - posted on 11/15/2011

12,562

16

847

So, Sherri. If had a 14-year old boy, and I decided that I didn't like how his nose looked, should I be allowed to force him to have a nose job?

Or, if i have a 16-year old daughter, who gets pregnant, should I be allowed to force her to have an abortion?

Jeannette - posted on 11/15/2011

911

3

78

I feel we have to be careful what we are going to dictate to people in regards to how they choose to raise their kids.
I could easily state that I believe Jehovah's witnesses denying their children much needed medical care is abuse regardless of what they believe. They then can show me how people have died or become diseased from such treatments 'proving' their stance to be the safer one.
Flip it even. I would force my 10yo to have an abortion. People will tell me that is a form of abuse to put my daughter through such a traumatic procedure which could actually cause her to become unable to have children. I would still choose for her to have the abortion. I would not want you or anyone else telling me what works for my family.
We all do not agree, that is what makes this great.

Krista - posted on 11/15/2011

12,562

16

847

Pfft...could the kids do any worse at voting than we adults have? Goodness knows they certainly couldn't put any LESS thought into their vote than the vast majority of the electorate does.

So if you don't agree with taking away the parent's authority, do you think it's perfectly acceptable if a child of Jehovah's Witness parents dies due to the parents refusing to allow her to have a blood transfusion?

Jeannette - posted on 11/15/2011

911

3

78

Krista, I still will not agree with taking away the parent's authority. It will sadden me to see something tragic and preventable not prevented, however, we cannot make everyone else's decisions for them.
If my daughter at 18 refuses medical treatment because of fear, then that is on her. However, as her mother, it is my responsibility to care for her - and that care includes making sure she has necessary tests done. Tests by the way that are indicating that there really is something wrong. Had I let her just make her choice, she could suffer complications that could lead to more severe problems. I would be expected to care for her if this came to pass, so I would like to nip it in the bud. It is a responsibility of the parent, not a right of a child.
By what you all are stating, children should be allowed to vote as well because if a kid can figure out all of the bureaucratic mumbo jumbo that is involved with certain procedures, they have clarity to decide who should be president. If that happens, don't be surprised when future candidates are holding town halls about how Barbie and Transformers are at the forefront of the agenda.

Krista - posted on 11/15/2011

12,562

16

847

But where does it stop, Jeannette? Do you think that your daughter would have been more likely to get the endoscopy at 18, when you no longer have ANY power over her? I know people in their 50's who refuse medical treatments out of fear or ignorance. But that is their responsibility. And really, at that point, it is the job of the doctor to address those concerns and to impress upon the patient how important the procedure is. At some point, we all have to start taking responsibility for our own health. And in my country, that age is 16.

Now, getting back to the 10 year old. None of us are saying that a 10 year old should be able to just always make her own medical decisions, full stop.

However, unfortunately, there are cases where a 10 year old or 12 year old or 14 year old gets pregnant and does not want to be. And unfortunately there are ALSO cases where the parents would flat-out refuse to allow the girl to terminate. For a very young girl, this could destroy her health, or even kill her.

In those cases, does the parent's right to be a parent supercede the child's right to be healthy and whole? I say no.

Now if she's incapable of fully understanding the procedure, and what is involved, then yes, the parents ideally SHOULD be involved. But, if the kid's life is in danger, than the doctor or another adult should absolutely have the right file to court on the child's behalf, asking that parental permission be disregarded.

Jeannette - posted on 11/15/2011

911

3

78

I have to disagree with anyone who would think a 10 year old is capable of making necessary medical decisions for themselves. My 17yo would not have had the endoscopy, even though something very serious could be wrong with her. She wanted to refuse all the way up to the anesthesia. Know what her biggest problem was all morning? She had to get undressed and wear a hospital gown. That's right ladies, she was terrified a total stranger would see her bare butt.

If my daughter were 10 and found out she were pregnant, I wouldn't believe she would have the mental capacity to make a life changing or life threatening decision for herself. If a nurse started reading off the possible ramifications for anesthesia, for instance, she would turn tail and run. I would have to be there to remind her of the possible trauma from carrying a baby at 10.

If it is not my job to guide, protect, support, correct, then pray tell...what is my job as her mother? Her friends can offer all of the ill gotten knowledge they themselves have. But it is my responsibility if she takes friends advice and ends up in worse condition.

No, I am glad I am a mother. It takes responsibility, but someone has to do it.

Krista - posted on 11/15/2011

12,562

16

847

Great topic, by the way, Becky. This one is a real head-scratcher, and makes for some great, nuanced debate.

Kellie - posted on 11/15/2011

1,994

8

175

I really have an issue with anyone not being able to decide to have a termination themselves no matter what their age.

Absolutely EVERY female should have support when making the decision, going through with it and in the aftermath of having it done.

However, ultimately it should be up to the woman (in this case child) what they want to do and no one should be able to override that. No one.

For me, it's about the best decision for the pregnant person, if that means a termination then terminate. No one should be able to interfere with their wishes.

Stifler's - posted on 11/14/2011

15,141

154

604

Yes anyone should be able to consent to an abortion. Their pregnancy their choice. it shouldn't be up to religious nut parents who refuse to let their kid have an abortion even when it's in their child's best interests. I'd rather my 10 year old have an abortion than carry a baby for 40 weeks that either I have to raise or she has to give up for adoption. As she's 10 and not even in high school yet. this is not the dark ages where you can get by without any education.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 11/14/2011

21,273

9

3058

I am torn with this one. While I don't think a child of pre-teen years is capable of committing to such drastic measures on either side of the spectrum, and parental consent IMO should be given for abortions at such a young age, I do believe women have the right to chose. But these are just girls, that happen to hit puberty young, and have the misfortion of a terrible act happening to them (rape/incest/molestation). I also don't think such a young person can give proper understanding of consent to sexual acts. Therefore, the nature of the beast tells me they would not be in the proper mental state after finding out they are pregnant to make such a huge life altering decision alone.

Jeannette - posted on 11/14/2011

911

3

78

Oooohhhh, touchy subject. Being the mother of two girls, I would rake a doctor over the coals if he performed any procedure on one of my kids without my knowledge or consent. As a matter of fact, I just spent the entire day with her at the hospital in the endoscopy unit signing lord knows how many parental releases! They would expect me to pay and be responsible if anything went wrong, so I had better know what is going on!

Mary - posted on 11/14/2011

3,348

31

123

It is tricky. In the US, it varies from state to state. A pregnant teen is considered an emancipated minor when it comes to consenting for the treatment of herself and her baby. Therefore, she is "protected" from say, an overbearing mother refusing to allow her an epidural, forcing her to abort, or even deciding that the baby should or should not be circumcised (or whatever). Oddly enough, after delivery, she then reverts to being minor. She can consent or refuse to treatment for her baby, but not herself.



As far as either parental consent or notification for a minor to receive an abortion...those waters have gotten very muddy here on both the state and federal level. Many states do have some type of requirement for parental notification, if not outright consent.



It's a hard call for me. While I have no objections to a 14 or 15 y/o independently making the choice to abort, a 10 or 11 y/o...ugh. The thought of a 10 y/o being forced to carry a baby, particularly if it was the result of rap or abuse makes me physically ill. I have cared for children that young in L&D, and it is ALWAYS heartbreaking. I think in every case, however, the pregnancy was not "known" until well beyond the first trimester, which complicates the issue even further.



I don't know that there is any clear-cut, "good" answer to this question.

[deleted account]

Yes, but if a 10 - 13 YO is pregnant, it's sounds like she's already gone through quite a few things, with or without support. I agree with Toni -- I think it should be the age of consent in the particular state. Below that age, the parents' consent should be required.

Becky - posted on 11/14/2011

2,892

44

93

The problem I have with a child of any age being able to make the choice is that I just hate to think of a very young child going through an abortion alone, with no support. I can't imagine how horrible and traumatic that would be for her. From what I understand, it's not a pain-free process, and there is a chance of infection afterwards, right? So the idea of a 10-13 year old going into it without any parental/adult support just really concerns me. Hopefully that would never be the case, but if any child can consent without notifying their parents, it could potentially happen and I can see it having disasterous results for the child. So I do believe that at the minimum, the parents or another responsible adult should have to be notified, if not give consent, to ensure that the child has proper aftercare and emotional support.

[deleted account]

Krista makes some excellent points.... and that's all I'm going w/ here. Since my girls are almost 10 and I'm also pro-life.... this whole topic is too much for my head and heart to handle.

Tara - posted on 11/14/2011

2,567

14

114

If my 11 year old daughter were pregnant I would counsel her to have an abortion. I would tell her about all the potential problems a pregnancy at her age could entail. I would talk to her about being a parent, I would hope she would make that choice. However I don't think I could force my child to have an abortion, unless I was certain that her life were in danger.
I don't know it's a tricky one as soon as you think of it as you child having a child.

Tara - posted on 11/14/2011

2,567

14

114

I think a child at any age should be able to make that choice. It truly is unfortunate that it should be a choice that any child should ever have to make but a pregnant female should always have the choice whether to carry a child or not.

[deleted account]

It should be the age of consent, whatever that may be if a girl is old enough to consent to sex they should be able to make other life choices. Although ideally I'd like abortion to be limited to medical necessity (but I know it can't be).

Denikka - posted on 11/14/2011

2,160

5

749

I disagree with the other ladies. Up until 18 and you have to have consent? What about the morning after pill? And going through the legal process??

Legal processing takes TIME, and it's something that a woman who is considering an abortion is short on. In Canada, according to the web, abortions can be done up to 22 weeks.
Say you don't find out until you're 6 weeks along. You're probably going to take a while to decide, whether with the help of parents/the father or not. And then what? Another 6+ weeks going through the system? By that time, you're 15+ weeks along, are through your first trimester and are now going to have a significantly more difficult time having an abortion. The farther along you are, the harder it is on your body, not to even mention the effects on the emotions (hormone induced emotions included).
And what happens if the parents are extremely religious and absolutely refuse to allow it. Granted, there's court. But what about stepping on freedom of religion and that sort of thing? Brings about a whole lot of hoopla and could completely clog the process until it's too late.
What if one of the parents/step parents is abusive. Forcing a child to get their parents consent could actually end in a beating or death for that child. Even going through the courts, the parents would, obviously, need to be notified. Enough children fall through the cracks and are killed as it is. I wouldn't want to give an abusive parent one more *reason* to beat/kill their child.
What happens if the parents are divorced but share custody. One's for it, one's against it. What do you do then? Once again, court. But that can eat up a lot of time.

And court, in and of itself poses a LOT of problems. The system is already so clogged with BS, where the heck is this going to fit in? How long is this girl going to have to wait to get a hearing? What happens if one of the key people doesn't show up? Does the court get pushed back until, if and when, that person does show up?

There are WAY too many problems with forcing parental consent and/or involving the courts. In a perfect world, absolutely. All parents would be positively involved in their childrens' lives enough that getting parental consent for something like this wouldn't be an issues. But in a perfect world, there wouldn't be children getting pregnant and needing abortions anyways.
In THIS world though, I think it would cause more problems than it would solve.

Brittany - posted on 11/14/2011

531

9

14

The age of consent should be 18.

If the child does not want to hold the pregeancy then she can speak with a child advocate, who could contact a lawyer. Then it could go to court and so on and so on.

I can not remember if you have to actually give birth or if you just have to become preggo to be considered, legally, "Independent" of your parents. I think you have to actaully give birth.

This would raise other questions though like, what exactly would a lawyer have to prove as to why the child should be granted an abortion against her parents wishes? What about the father of the baby, should he have a say? If this is a rape, should the girl have to go through an eval and press chrages (if she knows her attacker) before an abortion can be put in place?

The list could go on.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms