No sooner had my blog, Grandmothers for Death, been posted, than a dear friend, attorney Richard Collier, advised us that indeed the young girl whose mother literally coerced her into having an abortion could have exercised her rights and saved her baby.
Here is the story that inspired Collier to write us:
VIRGINIA BABY SAVED
In early May, a young lawyer in Charlottesville, Virginia called Walter Weber at the American Center for Law & Justice, asking for help in a situation in which the parents of a 16-year-old girl were trying to force her to have an abortion. Walter immediately sent out an emergency e-mail to lawyers who had been involved in similar situations, asking them to contact the young lawyer and give him whatever help they could, because he had never done anything like this before. Rich Collier contacted him, advised and encouraged him, and sent him research materials and model pleadings. The young attorney tried shot-across-the-bow letters first, one of them advising the PP clinic that the girl did not consent to the abortion and was under duress (so that any consent she signed would be invalid). PP’s attorney immediately advised Bob that PP would not go forward with the abortion. The parents, however, kept up the pressure, so the young attorney was forced to go to court, where he was able to get an emergency injunction against the abortion. Because the judge also ordered the girl to return to her parents’ home (she had been living with a friend’s family, who were willing to keep her there throughout her pregnancy), the young attorney was anxious about the possibility of the parents’ ultimately wearing down the girl. But by the grace of God, this case followed the classic pattern the law center has observed in these cases over the years – the girl’s parents turned around completely and the entire family situation improved. One might even suspect that the Lord deliberately sent this baby to bring about this result! Anyway, thank God for the mysterious and miraculous ways He works – even across state lines!
Further, Collier sent us a set of very interesting facts, each of which confirms the obvious: Grandmothers for Death's argument should have been soundly defeated. Here are a few of the facts:
New York: In 1981, a mother tried to force her 15-and-half-year-old daughter into having an abortion. The court granted an order of protection to the daughter with the following observations:
Accordingly, in order to protect M’s constitutional right to give birth, the court herewith issues an order of protection to her pursuant to section 759 of the Family Court Act. The petitioner mother is ordered not to interfere with M’s determination to deliver her child or to attempt to force M to have an abortion. Among the permissible penalties for failure to comply with the order of protection is a jail term not to exceed six months. (Family Court Act, § 780) Hopefully, the petitioner's mother will adhere to her recent statement indicating support for her daughter. As the date for delivery approaches, Mary would be best served by her mother standing by her at home rather than against her in court.
In re Mary P., 111 Misc. 2d 532, 444 N.Y.S.2d 545, 1981 N.Y. Misc. (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 1981)
United States Supreme Court:
A woman’s decision to conceive or to bear a child is a component of her liberty that is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution… That clause… protects the woman’s right to make such decisions independently and privately… free of unwarranted governmental intrusion.
Moreover, the potentially severe detriment facing a pregnant woman… is not mitigated by her minority. . .
As we stated . . ., the right to make this decision “do[es] not mature and come into being magically only when one attains the state-defined age of majority.” Thus, the constitutional protection against unjustified state intrusion into the process of deciding whether or not to bear a child extends to pregnant minors as well as adult women.
(Source: Hodgson v. Minnesota, 497 U.S. 417, 434-35 )
Further, Collier, joined by others in signing a letter to the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services, uses cogent arguments in defense of a minor’s right to carry her baby to term. In the letter, he writes,
This office represents A H, an unemancipated minor….We have been advised that you have been assigned as her case worker. We have also been advised that you and A’s mother are pressuring A to have an abortion, and that her mother has actually scheduled an appointment with an abortionist. Please be advised that A wants to carry her baby to term and does not want to undergo an abortion. The decision is hers, and hers alone, to make, as both the United States Supreme Court and the New Jersey Supreme Court have recognized:
As we stated,. . .the right to make this decision “do[es] not mature and come into being magically only when one attains the state-defined age of majority.” Thus, the constitutional protection against unjustified state intrusion into the process of deciding whether or not to bear a child extends to pregnant minors as well as adult women. [Source: Hodgson v. Minnesota]
The pivotal point is simply this: If in America it is legally permissible for an expectant mother to have her preborn child killed because she has “freedom of choice,” regardless of her age, then it is equally true that she has the right to carry her baby to term. When the question is a minor seeking abortion, every state law has a loophole permitting her, for reasons she can create out of thin air depending on her counselor, to acquire an abortion without parental consent or notification.
By the same token, she should be able to choose to carry her baby to term regardless of the pressure put on her by her parents or others. Clearly, we need more advice from people like Collier to help us save babies, even when Grandmothers for Death would have it otherwise!