Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On Parental Consent

On this blog, I have not always ventured into the controversial. I feel that it is important, though, that certain issues be discussed. The topic of abortion is a touchy subject to most. It is a topic that divides the American public fairly evenly - with nearly as many in favor as against.

Maryland has very permissive abortion laws. In fact, our ranking by NARAL Pro-Choice America is higher than generally viewed as liberal areas such as New York, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. As one who's views on this issue tend to fall to the right, I can't help but wonder what that means.

As I began to delve deeper into this, I noticed one of the simplest and most clear cut in my mind aspect of abortion regulations: parental consent. Parental consent for abortion for minors is an unnecessarily controversial issue. If an abortion is to be viewed as those on the left would have us view it - abortion is merely a medical procedure. If that is the case, then abortions must be treated as any other medical procedure. In Maryland, a minor is unable to get a tattoo even with parental consent. Why then should a potentially invasive, damaging, and emotionally strenuous medical procedure be allowed to be performed on a minor without no notification of a parent if a physician feels that "...[t]he minor is mature and capable of giving informed consent to an abortion." It may not be perfect, but parental notification and consent is the current standard for medical procedures. To feel we must treat one controversial procedure differently, which the many on the left want us to view clinically as a medical procedure, is inconsistent and illogical.

As such, I would propose the following to adjust Maryland law with regards to parental consent. I would propose to amend General- - Health Section 20-103 to read as follows -
(a) Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, a physician may not perform an abortion on an unmarried minor unless the physician has first gives consent from a parent or guardian of the minor.
(b) The physician may perform the abortion without consent of a parent or guardian if the minor does not live with a parent or guardian.
(1) The physician may perform the abortion, without consent of a parent or guardian of a minor if, in the professional judgment of the physician notice to the parent or guardian may lead to physical or emotional abuse of the minor.
(2) The physician is not liable for civil damages or subject to a criminal penalty for a decision under this subsection not to request consent.

(d) A signed statement granting consent for the procedure from the parent or guardian of the minor will be considered conclusive evidence of consent.
Please review my proposal and consider this option. It provides regulations requiring parental consent as required for all other medical procedures. It allows a physician who truly believes that the minor's life is in danger if consent is sought to perform the procedure without consent and protects those doctors under the law.

Those on the left will say that I have gone too far, those on the right will say that I have not gone far enough. Yet, I think this minor reform would be a positive step forward. As always, opinions are always welcome.

Cross-posted from Newman for Maryland

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