Texas abortion bill

Disturbing signs.

Using an evangelical school gymnasium as a backdrop, Gov. Rick Perry put his signature to legislation restricting abortions and added his backing to a measure barring same-sex marriage.

Perry signed a bill Sunday requiring girls under the age of 18 to get their parents’ consent before having an abortion and also imposes more limits on late-term abortions.

“For too long, a blind eye has been turned to the rights of our most vulnerable human beings — that’s the unborn in our society,” Perry told a crowd of about 1,000 people gathered at the Calvary Christian Academy.

This brings to mind a scenario I read about a few weeks ago on a another blog (totally forget which one): What if a single girl under the age of 18 gets pregnant and wants to keep her child — but her parents insist she have an abortion? Do the parents’ rights go both ways, giving them power to force their child to kill the fetus or give birth to an unwanted child? It’s an interesting question.

In my mind, the last thing we want are girls being forced to give birth to unwanted children. Yes, abortion is horrible and the ultimate last resort. But bills like this, so blatantly designed to delight the hard-core evanglicals, are counter-productive and stupid. This is one more step toward outlawing abortion altogether, and they won’t stop until the mission is fully accomplished. Will we let them claim victory?

The Discussion: 18 Comments

Apparently, for too long we’ve overlooked the rights of a specific group–the parents–to control absolutely anything their child does.

June 6, 2005 @ 8:07 pm | Comment

You pose an interesting question Richard – one that’s not easily answered.

Personally, I don’t agree with abortion, especially when it’s used as a form of birth control. But, even though I don’t agree with it I still believe the woman should have full control over her body. Not the government.

While I don’t like the idea of the government trying to ban abortion, I do think they are right to legislate against late-term abortions.

I also agree with the practice of requiring doctors to obtain the parents consent to administer an abortion on a girl that has yet to reach the age of 18 because the parents are legally responsible for that child until they reach that age and having an abortion could be a risky procedure.

June 6, 2005 @ 9:28 pm | Comment

I appreciate your viewpoint. I have to ask, as I did in the post, do you believe parents should have the power to insist their daughter submit to an abortion? Under the logic that the parents should have the final say, wouldn’t this make sense? (Tricky issue, I admit, and there is not easy answer.)

As to late-term abortion, this is a classic example of a non-issue, an extremely rare procedure exploited as a PR tool to garner support for the “pro-life” cause under the singularly inflammatory name of “partial-birth abortions,” though it is performed mainly to save the mother’s life.

June 6, 2005 @ 9:33 pm | Comment

1) Childbirth is riskier than abortion.

2) Abortion *is* birth control, the last option left when all the others have failed or are unavailable.

3) Many of those who would criminalise abortion would also criminalise every other form of birth control.

4) Many of those who would criminalise birth control would also criminalise non-marital and/or non-procreative sex.

5) The question of whether or not a foetus is a living human being is a red herring.

June 6, 2005 @ 10:50 pm | Comment

Michael … a lot of points. Not much coherent argument.

Personally, I think this kind of law is a bad idea, for exactly the same reason that I think some of the laws on gay marriage have been a bad idea. They represent certain groups trying to use laws to push the rest of the country in a direction they’re just not ready to move (yet?).

June 7, 2005 @ 12:09 am | Comment


In answer to your question, no, I do not believe the parents have the right to force a child under the age of 18 (depending how far under 18) to have an abortion. However, at the same time if a girl (a minor) decides to keep the baby, I don’t believe the parents should be held legally or financially responsible for that individual any longer (if that is what they wish).

After thinking about my previous comment, I don’t necessarily think there should be a law requiring parental consent for a girl under 18 to have an abortion, but it should be mandatory for the parents to at least be notified simply because it is a medical procedure that could pose possible risks to the patient.

June 7, 2005 @ 12:24 am | Comment

This is much ado about nothing.

Texas law is limited by the US Constitution. The Supreme Court has ruled that, to be constitutional, parental consent laws must include an “alternative,” such as a judicial bypass procedure.

There are four criteria that must be met for a bypass procedure to be found proper. The criteria are:

The procedure must permit the minor to show that she is mature and has the proper information to make an abortion decision.

The procedure must permit the minor to show that even if she cannot make the decision on her own that an abortion would be in her best interest.

The procedure must insure the minor’s anonymity.

The procedure must insure that the court conducting the bypass procedure has the expectation that it may permit the abortion to take place.

There is nothing the Texas legislature or Governor can do to change this.

“Kara Sweidel, president of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, who works at the Whole Woman’s Health in Austin, said the judicial override will remain in effect and is pushed through quickly when the girl is trying for an abortion and has demonstrated fear of abuse or harassment if parents are notified.

To Sweidel, it is a matter of maturity, not age, and as long as the young girl is talking to some adult, she should not be forced to tell a parent or guardian. If minors are still allowed to go through the judicial override of the parental consent laws, Sweidel said she thought little would change in performing abortions on minors.”

In other words, the president of a local feminist, pro-choice organization, who works at an abortion clinic, thinks the Texas law is no big deal.

June 7, 2005 @ 3:17 am | Comment

Oh, and to answer your question Richard, for much the same reasons the state must permit a parental notification by-pass procedure, no parent or legal guardian can force a competent minor to have an abortion.

June 7, 2005 @ 3:22 am | Comment

Conrad, I pose just two words that bother me with what you have stated: States Rights.

They no longer exist.

June 7, 2005 @ 7:36 am | Comment

Conrad, thank a lot for the clarification. It may be much ado about nothing, but look at the article and see the way the Texas GOP is making all the noise about it. And even if it’s legally insignificant, I see at as one more creeping step in the right’s plan to criminalize abortion.

As for the state’s rights issue, I’d have to agree Gordon. Look at yesterday’s vote on medical marijuana. That should surely be a state issue; it paves the way for more whitling down of states rights.

June 7, 2005 @ 10:36 am | Comment

You wanna see *real* baby-killing? Keep forcing emotionally unstable teens to deliver babies. But then, Texas seems to love a culture of death, so…

June 7, 2005 @ 4:24 pm | Comment


States don’t have rights. People have rights. States have powers. Specifically, states have those powers not delegated to the federal government or denied to the states by the US Constitution.

The US Supreme Court says that the right to abortion is protected by the US Constitution. Consequently the states have no power to limit access to abortions in any way that abridges that consitutional right.

The Supreme Court says that denying a parental consent bypass procedure abridges the consitutional right to abortion.

Ergo, the states have no power (or “right” if you prefer) to require parental consent absent a bypass procedure.

June 7, 2005 @ 8:38 pm | Comment


So, you think that “emotionally unstable” minors should making major life changing decisions without any parental input?

Are you honestly asserting that “emotional instability” is an argument in favor of the minor’s decision-making competence?

That would be an interesting legal argument:

“Your Honor, my client is a minor seeking to bypass the parental notification law and have an abortion without involving her parents.”

“I see Counselor. And on what basis does your client claim that she should be allowed to make this important decision without any input or guidance from her legal guardians?”

“She should be allowed to make this decision on her own because she’s emotionally unstable, your Honor.”

“Application denied.”

June 7, 2005 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

States having more ability to regulate things like trade and laws like abortion would be a very interesting thing, I think – thing about how much more different Texas and Vermont would be. I’m not sure it’s a bad thing, but it might exacerbate some tension in the nation already. Might also calm some.

June 7, 2005 @ 9:25 pm | Comment

If you think the parental notification law is bad, now those damn Texans are locking up abortion providers!

Abortion provider sentenced to life in prison in Texas.

“LUFKIN, Texas (AP) — A 19-year-old accused of causing his teenage girlfriend to miscarry two fetuses was convicted Monday of two counts of murder.

Gerardo Flores (search) received an automatic life sentence because prosecutors did not seek the death penalty, which was available under the state’s 2003 fetus protection law (search).

Erica Basoria, 17, acknowledged asking Flores to help end her pregnancy; she could not be prosecuted because of her legal right to abortion.

Basoria told authorities that, after about four months of pregnancy, she regretted not getting an abortion and started jogging and hitting herself to induce a miscarriage. When her efforts failed, she said she asked her boyfriend to help.

Flores did not testify, but earlier told police that he stepped on Basoria’s stomach several times during the week before she miscarried.”

I blame the religious right.

June 8, 2005 @ 6:51 am | Comment

That’s quite a different story, and utterly bizarre.

June 9, 2005 @ 11:08 am | Comment

“Perry signed a bill Sunday requiring girls under the age of 18 to get their parents’ consent before having an abortion”

The US is insane, where I come from there are sizable concerns about parent forcing their children to have abortions. We need legislation to do the opposite.

June 12, 2005 @ 10:26 pm | Comment

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