Friday, June 27, 2008

The flip side 
So a 14-year old girl from Texas is being charged with "capital murder" for choking and drowning her newborn infant in a school toilet (though as a juvenile, so there is no possibility of the death penalty in her case.)

As someone who is, in personal sentiment, both anti-death penalty and pro-life, I've got a question for pro-choice, pro-death penalty readers.

Generally, social conservatives will argue that a minor should need a parental signature in order to receive an abortion. Most of the time, I'm in agreement with this view as well, as I am fundamentally distrustful of state attempts to usurp parental responsibility and authority. Many will also note the legal incongruity between a woman facing a capital murder charge for killing her infant seconds after its birth when she could have gotten an abortion that very morning, without legal consequence at all, and in the minds of many, without there being the slightest moral issue with it.

Assuming that was the case here, though, this girl, as a minor, could not have received an abortion on her own. Her first chance at abortion (obviously defined obscenely loosely here), was immediately after the birth. She had no opportunity to exercise any sort of reproductive choice prior to this, other than the choice to be sexually active in the first place (assuming it was a choice, and forcible rape was not a factor here).

That being the case, is this a mitigating argument for this girl, in pleading for leniency in sentencing?

And social conservatives: Is it possible, in your minds, that taking a hard line in favor of requiring parental consent for abortions would contribute to such an eventuality? Is it possible that denying access to abortion for minors absent parental consent will, predictably, create a few cases at the margins where infants who would otherwise have been aborted well before being carried to term will instead be murdered by their mothers after their birth?

If such is possible, how many cases would it take before one would say that the law of unintended consequences makes requiring parental consent a bad idea?

I don't have an answer. This was just on my mind after listening to a news report on the radio.

Splash, out


P.S., according to the report, school officials are also investigating what "school rules" she might have broken in the process. Good deal. As if a capital murder charge isn't plenty. Maybe these busy-body morons can get in on the act by getting her on giving birth without a fucking hall pass, too. Geniuses.

I would agree that both of those are possible. There are always cases on the margins of any issue this divisive. Having said that, I still support parental notification. Obviously, given the case in question, young peoples' ability to foresee consequences and formulate plans to deal with said consequences are underdeveloped, to be polite. Without knowing the specifics of this case, I would suspect that most young girls might not want to notify their parents because they lack a clear understanding of their parents' likely reaction. This may be the parents' fault, but is more likely due to the fact that most young people can't reason their way out of a paper sack.

It is my understanding that parental notification laws almost always have included a judicial bypass. Whether young girls like this would be aware of this procedure is unknown. Given the public schools' willingness to teach any form of contraception up to and including abortion, I would bet that they would be alerting young girls of that procedure. If they aren't, then they simply aren't doing the job they have aggregated to themselves.

The bottom line is, I, as a social conservative, am extremely concerned about our slide towards a culture of death. If the law does not protect those most unable to protect themselves, then what good is it? Decisions of life or death should not, ideally, be made by barely pubescent persons, nor should they be made without some guidance from those who are older, and presumably wiser. Obviously there will be parents who are unsupportive, or disengaged, or simply unable to provide guidance. They will outweighed by those who take their duties seriously, and have not only their daughters' interests in mind, but their prospective grandchildren as well.

As an aside, my mother probably would have aborted both my brother and I, had we been conceived before Roe vs. Wade. The irony of my mother moving across the country to be with a son she may not have had for support may be lost on her, but it is not lost on me.
Hmmm. I wonder if your mother, on the other hand, has a firmer grasp of the net present value of past expenditures incurred in raising you. ;-)
Whoops, that should have been conceived before Roe vs. Wade.
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