Montana plans to join the long list of states with an anti-abortion initiative on its November ballot, but unlike many of the others proposals, Montana’s targets a population that can’t even vote on it: teen moms.
Montana wants voters to decide whether or not a girl 16 or younger needs to have her parents meet with the doctor before she can get an abortion. It’s an aggressive version of parental consent and notification and one that doesn’t even seek the input of those most affected by the decision.
The measure is sponsored by Jerry Bennett (R-Libby) and was approved for public vote by the Montana Legislature last session. Bennett frames the issue strategically but entirely dodges the issue of legislating against a minority unable to vote themselves. “It’s not an abortion issue for me, it’s the right to be a parent,” he said. “Voters in Montana should have that right to at least be notified before their child has a major surgery.”
Like other notification supporters, Bennett points to other issues that require consent, more than even notification, for minors “If your young daughter is about to get her ears pieced or get a tattoo or go to a tanning bed, she needs permission. Why not with this issue?” he said.
The main problem with all of these consent and notification bills is they presume teen girls live in a safe, loving and supportive home environment. If only that were true. They also presume the pregnancy is not a product of abuse from within the family. And finally, they presume that a teenage girl has no right to decide if she is ready to be a parent on her own terms.
Even if that is what lawmakers believe, shouldn’t she at least get a vote on it?
Photo from matrinak15 via flickr.