After all, we think a 14 year old should be in control of her body enough to decide on her own to have an abortion, so why isn't she old enough to consent to sex?
I'm thinking about this because of a case that's in the news today:
Kaitlyn Hunt, or “Kate,” has just refused a plea deal in a case that has focused the nation on discriminatory prosecutions and ways in which LGBT people are treated differently by some prosecutors. Kate Hunt, a high school senior who began a consensual relationship with a classmate three years her junior, when she was 17, was arrested when she turned 18 after her girlfriend’s parents demanded her arrest and expulsion from school.
The Florida prosecutor, Brian Workman, offered her a deal vastly different from those generally offered to teens in her situation engaged in opposite-sex consensual relationships. Instead of offering her a misdemeanor charge Hunt is being charged with two felonies. Her plea deal would include her being forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life, no possibility of her case being overturned or records sealed, and forced to serve two years’ house arrest.
“Hunt will appear in court June 20, and could face 15 years in prison if convicted... (source)
I'm curious what your thoughts are on the question in the subject line as well as on this case.
In large part the reason for 14 year olds being able to get abortions without parental consent is the fear that the parents will beat her or otherwise punish her for having the sex in the first place. Or they will for religious reasons force her to have the child even at risk of her physical health.
So, if we figure she's competent enough to decide to have an abortion for fear of her parents' reaction, isn't she then ipso facto competent enough under the law to be thought of as capable of giving consent to sex to anyone whatever their age?
If we still believe that parents should be parents, why not simply live with that instead of subverting it without sanctifying the child having, essentially, a secret life?
This is all a rather tough issue. I've in the past tended towards giving the parents total control and my views on *both* of these questions are evolving and yes I *do* see the parallel.
How do you figure that she is getting an abortion without counseling? Maybe I'm not aware of the laws/statistics but at least where I come from a girl goes through extensive medical exam and counseling before an abortion is administered. Is it different in other places?
You obviously don't live around here!:
A federal judge on Friday ordered that the most common morning-after pill be made available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger. But his acidly worded decision raises a broader question about whether a cabinet secretary can decide on a drug’s availability for reasons other than its safety and effectiveness. (source)
We may be looking at a future in the US where any drug that won't kill you or is addictive may be available over the counter to anyone, any age, no Rx required.
The logical place for a pregnant teen to go is Planned Parenthood which has counseling services but, as far as I can tell, does not require them. Their philosophy seems to be, if someone wants an abortion, we'll give it to them only answering any questions they actually ask. And when it comes to answering questions, some people feel that the answer usually tends to be "When can we give you an abortion." You see, when it comes to abortions, Planned Parenthood's philosophy is pretty much if a female wants an abortion, she should be in control and shouldn't be subjected to an interrogation.
There are horror stories of girls who have even reported sexual abuse, got an abortion, and were sent home with birth control pills, with no one reporting the abuse. Read about some in this NY Times article.
"Going through the options" needn't amount to actual teen counseling but rather just presenting a list of the types of abortion options available.
Also, if you have read the NY Times article I linked to, you'll realize that PP policy and actual practice can vary widely.
I think consenting to sex and choosing an abortion is not the right comparison.
The bigger question for me is, how can we as a society say that anyone under 16 does not have the ability to choose sex, but if they kill someone, they knew what they were doing and hold them responsible.
I have watched the age at which we try children as adults go lower and lower, this alarms me.
A 15 year old girl does not know what she is doing when she has sex, but a 12 year old boy should be tried as an adult for killing someone?
I concur, Dennis, if they're going to set an arbitrary age that defines when a person should be expected to accept adult responsibility for their actions, it should apply across the board, and they shouldn't be able to pick and choose which cases don't fall into that category.
Apparently psychopaths are typically born, not made. Hopefully (or perhaps I should say ideally) prosecutors use trial as an adult as a way to get a psychopath out of public life before they kill someone else. Even when convicted, I don't think minors are generally subjected to capital punishment.
BTW, I don't relate well to the idea that kids don't really understand death. Who does? If they realize that if they kill someone they won't be around for their next birthday party, that's understanding enough for me. I think a lot of adults don't think much beyond that, either.
I'm not sure we totally disagree, but PP, I'm pretty sure, only goes over the options the client wants to hear. If a teen comes in and wants whatever abortion options are available to here, I doubt if they're going to make her hear them if she's not interested and just wants to get an abortion done. She'll get only the counseling she wants. Why? Because being too heavy-handed can seem judgmental and may drive her away, which is counterproductive.
Well, as I explained elsewhere, once the Federal judge's decree goes into effect, buying a Plan B 72-hour abortion pill will be as easy as buying a pack of gum for anyone who has the cash, age not a consideration.
I'm just asking if we feel we have to respect her ownership of her body to the extent of letting her decide whether or not to have an abortion (when she can't get plastic surgery or dental implants on a similar basis), why stop respecting that right when it comes to her sex life?
People say, "Well, she doesn't understand the implications of having sex with an adult at that age," but can we really prepare her for the consequences of aborting her fetus? Will she in her 20's or 30's regret not having the baby?
Yes she might well regret it - but at least she is regretting it without impacting another human life. I think it's a better bet to have her regret not having a baby, than to regret having one.
Personally, I believe once a child hits teens, there should be considered a set of "mid-rights", or some form of teen rights. Should sex be included? Well, whether you want to include it or not, it will be apart of it either in practice or rebellion.