The law recognizes 18 as the age of “majority,” when a child crosses the threshold into adulthood. Minors suddenly cease to be considered children and, accordingly, they assume legal control over their lives.
I think all parents realize there is nothing magic about that age. Some children are mature enough to accept responsibility earlier. Others are not ready until they are even older. But the law gives us a standard.
For parents, at least it’s a benchmark whereby they can continue to wield authority over their offspring legally until then. But the abortion issue has been a challenge to that parental authority.
A majority of states require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. Most require the consent or notification of only one parent, but a handful of states require the involvement of both parents.
Under existing Indiana law, girls younger than 18 may not have an abortion unless they have their parents’ consent or seek permission from a judge. But a new law set to take effect on July 1 would require the judge considering that request to also weigh whether the girl’s parents should receive notification of her pursuit of the so-called “judicial bypass,” regardless of the decision on the abortion itself.
Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the law on April 25, saying it’s a “parental rights issue.”
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed suit against Indiana officials Thursday over the new law, saying it creates “an unconstitutional undue burden on unemancipated minors.” An unemancipated minor is a person below age 18 who receives at least half of their support from a parent or guardian
The federal lawsuit seeks an injunction blocking some of the law’s measures Planned Parenthood and the ACLU say violate the Constitution’s due process and equal protection provisions and the First Amendment.
When my kids were minors, I would have vehemently opposed any law that kept me from knowing about and having authority over any decision regarding any medical procedures. I would no more have assented to having my 16-year-old undergo a medical procedure without my knowledge and consent than I would have my 2-year-old.
“This law highlights the important role that parents have in the health of their young daughter,” said Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter in a statement Friday responding to the news of the lawsuit. “Planned Parenthood claims abortion is a ‘woman’s right,’ but this rhetoric forgets we’re talking about young, minor girls. An abortion is not a trivial health decision to be made lightly. Parents deserve to be involved and informed.”
A provision in the new law prevents anyone from aiding an unemancipated minor seeking an abortion. The suit says that violates the First Amendment because it will prohibit Planned Parenthood from advising those minors “that they can travel to other states to obtain their abortions.”
Hooray, I say!
Kerry Hubartt is editor of The News-Sentinel.