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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

EDITORIAL: What's the big issue with parental notification?

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Friday, June 16, 2017 12:01 am

It's a shame Indiana officials have to tell what amounts to a lie in order to defend one of the state's new laws as sound public policy. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher testified before District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker that, no, no, no, the state's parental notification law most certainly does not pose a “substantial obstacle” to a pregnant, unemancipated minor getting an abortion.

But of course putting up obstacles to abortions, by unemancipated minors or anybody else, is exactly the state's mission, just as it is the mission of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, which has sued the state over the law, to make getting those abortions as easy as possible.

That's the fight, and those are the combatants, and it's silly to pretend otherwise.

It's difficult to see what PPINK's big objection to the major provision of the law is.

Under current law, unemancipated pregnant minors can seek a judicial bypass of the parental consent requirement to an abortion. A juvenile court can waive the consent requirement if it finds the minor is mature enough to make an abortion-related decision on her own, or if it is in the minor's best interests that the abortion be allowed.

Under the proposed law, parental consent can still be waived, but parents must be informed of the pregnant minor's intent to obtain an abortion “unless the juvenile court finds that it is in the best interests of an unemancipated pregnant minor to obtain an abortion without parental notification following a hearing on a petition… .”

In one case, a court can decide to bypass parental consent, in the other parental notification. What doesn't change is that the one thing standing between an unemancipated minor and her parents is a judge's wisdom.

Let's never forget the “unemancipated” part of the minors we are dealing with here. These are children who for everything else but abortion are still under control of their parents, who have the legal, moral and financial responsibility for everything they do. What courts are considering is when and under what circumstances to take parents out of the loop on one of the most difficult and important decisions their children will ever have to make.

Jumping into the middle of that fight is not something anyone should apologize for, and they certainly shouldn't have to lie about it.


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