New Alabama Law Puts Teens Who Need Abortions on Trial. That's Dangerous and Cruel.

Picture this: You are 17 years old, in your senior year of high school, and you've just learned you're pregnant. You'd like to be able to turn to your parents for support but you know you can't. After all, they kicked your older sister out of the house when she got pregnant. But you have discussed your options with your aunt and a trusted counselor and decided to have an abortion.

You call a women's health center to make an appointment and are told that unless you get your parent's consent, you will have to go to court and essentially be put on trial in order to get the care you need.

That's right. Instead of a doctor, you get a trial.

Thanks to a new Alabama law, a teen who can't get a parent's consent has to undergo a gauntlet of questioning to get the abortion she needs. Because of this law, a prosecutor and a representative for the fetus, both of whom are charged with protecting the "state's interest in fetal life," (a.k.a. making sure the teen doesn't get an abortion), will cross-examine her.

That isn't even the half of it. In their quest to ensure that the teen can't get an abortion, the new law allows the prosecutor and fetus's representative to tell other people in the young woman's life -- including her teachers, pastor, employer, relatives, and friends – that she is pregnant. And to haul them in to court to testify against her.

No, I am not kidding.

Now, we all want our daughters to come to us if they get pregnant, and thankfully most do. But we all know that, unfortunately, some just can't. Some teens don't come from good families, and some teens don't come from safe homes. Putting these teens on trial is not the answer. The cruel irony of this law is that it means teens from troubled families, those who need our help and support the most, will struggle the most to get it.

I have been working for almost two decades to ensure that teens like these are able to get the medical care they need. In all that time, I don't think I have ever seen a law aimed at young people as misguided and mean spirited as this one. That's why I am proud to say that this week the ACLU went to court to challenge it. We did it because not only is it wrongheaded and dangerous, the new law is also flat-out unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has made clear that if a state decides to require teens to get a parent's consent to get an abortion, it must also have a confidential and expeditious alternative for those teens who can't turn to a parent. In passing this law – which allows the prosecutor and a representative for the fetus to tell anyone they want about the minor's pregnancy – Alabama politicians snubbed their nose at this long-standing constitutional requirement and thoroughly eliminated any expectation of privacy.

And worse than that, they have put young women in harm's way, creating a situation that might force them to take matters into their own hands. Given what we have seen the last few years, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. In state after state, from Texas to Ohio to Wisconsin and so many others , we have seen extremist politicians who are willing put women's health in jeopardy all to score political points. This is one more example of that.

We all want teens to be safe, but this law is cruel, dangerous, and unnecessary. To protect the young women of Alabama, we can't let it stand.

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Anonymous

i had an abortion when i was 15. the pregnancy was a result of incestuous rape. access to private and safe abortion procedures might not be something you agree with, but it IS necessary. it is also none of your fucking business.

Anonymous

This law definitely violates the right to privacy. Regardless of her age, she is dealing with adult problems at a young age. This type of situation burdens young women the most.

Anonymous

There's no war on women. There's war on killing of little babies. We women, think its us being attacked, but its not. Its an attack on family. Yes we make mistakes, an unplanned preganancy. Does it have to end in another mistake? Let's talk about the deep depression young girls and women go through after the abortion. There bodies were preparing for a birth. And when its stripped away from the body, depression, increase in suicide and years of guilt can haunt women. Lets discuss this. Why? Because we have a moral absolute that our selfish desires override. When we realize the bad choice we made, abortion, we let ourselves down. Women are survivors; we're protectors; we're nurturers - and when we do things that are opposite of why and how we were made - we turn on our ownselves. There's no war on women.....Its people who value life - who love your babies before they're even born. They don't hate you; they hate what you are doing to yourself and to your future. We love you. We want the best for you and your baby. Please have the baby and place him or her in a loving family. You are strong - you can do this and you're not alone. There are many agencies, churches and people who want to help you. Please seek them. Paula Nix

Anonymous

if only there was some way not to get pregnant, some kind of abstinence?

Anonymous

Why can't Christians stop implementing Sharia law? It is almost like they are hypocrites.

Robin Round

What isn't fair is taking the life of an unborn human being. The ACLU should think of their rights and defend them. If you "need" an abortion, maybe you should have thought about having unprotected sex. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but in the overwhelming majority, having sex is a choice. When you make a choice you need to face up the consequences.

FemSluttslackMo...

Cry me a River. The young woman that needs an abortion for any reason other than rape is a slut that threw caution to the wind. The parent that refuses to be in bondage to raising an irresponsible child and her offspring is not the enemy. Because of her new found fear of becoming a homeless single mother she decides to seek a license to murder in secret. Such a license should come in very rare and carefully considered cases. for that, an inquiry and investigation is needed. Other wise, we could all discard our mistakes in the trash unbeknownst to others and continue to live as moraless slutty bitches that open their legs for their needs rather than earning a living and becoming a positive influence in society. Kiss my ass if you don't like the truth.

Steven Rushing

This seems really crazy. I actually support a much much simplified version of this law. Basically any teen who cannot get parental permission should be guaranteed 10 minutes in front of a judge only, within a week of requesting an abortion. The judge ought to ask the teen some very specific questions, and no more. "Are you being abused?" "Was the sexual conduct that resulted in your pregnancy consensual?" "How old was your sexual partner?" "Do you personally want an abortion or are you being pressured to get one?" The judge should be absolutely certain that the teen understands that the court can protect her and her potential child should she actually desire to keep it. Once the judge is certain that the teen understands that the court can protect her, he should then take whatever answers she gives at face value. The whole process should take less than 15 minutes tops, and should be entirely safe for the teen. No one need know she was ever there.

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