By NANCY SMITH
Another year, another opportunity for Florida to conjure up an abortion bill to shame a woman or scare the daylights out of a girl.
Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, claims her House Bill 265 will keep pregnant girls under 18 safer because they will have to get their parents’ written permission before they can have an abortion. I’m sure she means well. But I don’t know how she figures she’s promoting safety. Does she have proof? Can she show us the numbers?
I’ve been an advocate for women’s reproductive rights since before Roe v. Wade, and lest you question my conservative colors, that was during the Sixties and before, when the Republican Party stood for personal responsibility, and the sanctity of a woman’s right to choose was nonpartisan.
But it’s also personal. For me and a lot of women my age, regardless of party. A lot of men, too. We’re stridently noisily pro-choice creatures. You know why? Because we remember what it was like to grow up in towns and cities without Roe V. Wade. We were there, eyes wide open.
I fear Rep. Grall thinks all parents would react as she would, if confronted by a pregnant 14-year-old — supportively, with love and understanding. And no doubt most parents you and I know would.
But what if a daughter didn’t want her parents to find out she was pregnant or that she intends to have an abortion — and I knew plenty of girls like that in high school. Depending on a number of factors — parental religious beliefs, the circumstances of home life or just ordinary tensions between parents and teenagers — some girls didn’t want to tell their parents.
Then there were the girls who, we found out later, were being sexually abused by a family member. And girls whose parents beat them within an inch of their lives when they found out; or kicked them out of the house. It was those girls who didn’t have Planned Parenthood to talk to, who went to a back-alley butcher if they had the money; or if they didn’t, there were always “friends” to give them a rusty coat hanger and bad advice.
Most of us knew girls like that. Most of us can remember, as I can, at least one girl whose desperation cost her her life.
So many of my generation want Roe V. Wade, we want legal abortions and, frankly, we want Planned Parenthood fully funded.
Keeping Planned Parenthood around with an elevated status as it used to have, Rep. Grall, that’s how to keep girls safe.
I feel as strongly as I ever did that teens should be allowed their own reproductive choices. Globally, teenagers have 17 percent of the world’s 42 million annual abortions. When acquired legally, only 0.3 percent of abortion patients experience complications, and only 0.6 of 100,000 abortion procedures result in death.
In comparison, the risk of death for women who have their babies is about 14 times higher: 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births, with another seven deaths per 100,000 during pregnancy. These numbers include the deaths of teen girls, who have higher rates of preeclampsia than women in their 20s and 30s.
Yet, no state requires parental consent or notification for prenatal care or delivery services — even invasive and statistically more dangerous Cesarean deliveries.
Let’s be honest about what we’re doing with HB 265: We’re creating another parental-involvement statute, not because we want to develop policies to improve a girl’s health, but because we want to secure political goals aimed at 1) making abortion harder to get, 2) restoring parental authority and 3) punishing girls for having sex.
Please reject misogynistic legislation of any kind.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith