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Parental Notice and the Demonization of Pro-Life Principle

There has been a bit of celebrating going on in Alaska over the past few days. The source of the jubilation is the passage of a ballot measure that requires parental notice prior to a pregnant teenager—seventeen or younger—going into a clinic to abort her baby. Of course the measure, which passed 55-45 percent, contains a huge loophole. According to the new law, “a teen will be able to get around the requirement that her parents be notified if she appears before a judge or provides the doctor notarized statements attesting to abuse at home.” This means the law contains a judicial bypass exception.

There’s always an “if,” but in the case of laws like this one there is more at stake than a simple end-run around mom and dad—which is precisely what a judicial bypass is all about. After all, if a doctor will intend the death of a human being by using instruments to abort him, is it feasible to imagine that this practitioner would have no qualms about lying to a judge regarding the reasons why the teenager should not have to tell her parents she is about to have their grandchild killed? I think it is.

But even if this clause were not in the law, the law would be problematic. Laws like this one send a message that, if grandma and grandpa approve the abortion, then the abortionist can go ahead and kill the baby. In other words, parental notice laws are nothing more than regulatory, band-aid approaches to a serious toxic condition that has poisoned the nation’s psyche over the past 35 years—predisposing most Americans to view abortion as a “personal” decision.

The perspective that puts the focus on the woman, defining the question in terms of a “woman’s right to choose” or “reproductive choice,” avoids discussing who will die during the abortion. Add to that the obvious fact that passing a law to require notice that someone is about to be murdered is the equivalent of sending a “tweet” to alert your friends that, in 24 hours, you plan to kill your boyfriend!

There is absolutely no way around the fact that the “tweeting” female would be arrested at once if her news got the attention it should. Yet, the abortionist planning the execution of the preborn baby will not be given a second thought by law enforcement officials for, as we all know, the law is on his side.

In the case of the teenage expectant mother and her child, there are laws that protect the killing of her preborn baby. With the passage of a regulatory law such as the Alaska parental notice initiative, there are simply other hurdles the abortionist has to overcome. Parental notice will not stop him from killing; it just slows him down.

There are those who argue that such laws do curtail the number of abortion deaths, and that may be true. I won’t argue that. But what I will say is that such laws deny human personhood because they erect fences around who, what, when, where and how abortion can be performed. At no point do such restrictions set forth the scientific fact that a human being is being murdered and, therefore, abortion should be against the law.

To those who support such laws, I have to ask: Is regulating abortion the synonym for being pro-life? Well, according to the headlines, it certainly would seem so. Headlines such as “Alaska’s Catholics played key role in passage of parental notice law” and “Alaska parental notification initiative passes with ‘crucial’ Catholic support” leave the impression that a major victory has been achieved for babies, their parents and their grandparents.

But peek beneath the surface and the ugly truth is exposed.

Frankly, upon reading the report detailing how hard Alaska’s Catholic bishops worked on parental notice, spending more than a year organizing people, I asked myself: What if those bishops had spent their time working to achieve an amendment to the Alaska state constitution that recognized the preborn baby as a person from his or her very beginning?  

Obviously there is no answer to this question. That being said, it is my considered opinion that, had those three bishops focused on human personhood, we might really have a reason to celebrate today.

As it is, we are merely witnessing another vote that effectively putrefies the pro-life principle—and that is truly a shame.