May 14, 2015 — A proposal (LD 83) before the Maine Legislature that would require a minor to involve her parent before obtaining an abortion "could put a girl's health and safety at risk," according to a Portland Press Herald editorial.
According to the editorial, the measure, if approved, "would repeal a 1989 state law [Title 22] that lets a physician determine whether a minor is competent enough to make her own decision on abortion" and instead require any girl under age 18 to obtain "the signed consent of someone who can provide written proof that they are the girl's parent" before obtaining an abortion.
The editorial states that while "[m]ost teens who have abortions do, in fact, tell their families beforehand," those "who decide not to tell their parents that they're pregnant often have good reason: Twenty-two percent are afraid of being kicked out of the house, and 8 percent fear being beaten." In addition, the editorial argues that "[b]y making it harder for teens to get abortions ... parental consent laws have been shown to boost the likelihood that minors will undergo later, more risky, procedures."
Further, the proposal's exceptions to the requirement "could have unintended consequences," according to the editorial. "For example, a teen who has the consent of a sibling (age 21 or older), stepparent or grandparent could get an abortion," but only if she provides "a written statement alleging that she has been abused by a parent." This requirement would force the girl to allege the abuse "regardless [of] whether she feels safe telling her story" and "expose the teen and her family to a child protective services investigation." Meanwhile, the editorial notes that the proposal's provisions allowing minors to seek judicial bypass have proven "difficult" in other states.
The editorial urges state lawmakers not to advance "a proposal that could put young Maine women in harm's way" (Portland Press Herald, 5/13).