ABORTION AND TEEN MOTHERHOOD. Scott's post below on parental notification laws brings up something that never seems to get said with regard to this issue. We all know that anti-abortion forces want to throw every roadblock and hurdle possible in front of a woman or girl seeking to have an abortion. When they talk about parental notification, they talk about the rights of parents. When progressives talk about why parental notification is bad, we tend to focus on the extreme cases -- a girl is being abused, she was raped by her father, etc. These cases are a good enough reason in and of themselves to oppose parental notification laws, but there's something else that�s said less often than it�s believed, if not by all pro-choice people, then certainly some: If a teenage girl is pregnant she ought to have an abortion.

It�s really as simple as that. Teenage pregnancy is bad, and teenage motherhood is bad, too. Having a child when you�re 16 or 15 or 14 may ruin your life, but even if it doesn�t, it�s going to make most of what comes after dramatically more difficult. Teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school, face economic deprivation, and have radically constrained life choices. So it seems that progressives oppose parental consent mostly because it makes those abortions less likely.

You won�t find any elected Democrats saying this, because then they�ll sound �pro-abortion� and not pro-choice. But if a 14-year-old girl gets pregnant and doesn�t want to tell her parents that she�s getting an abortion, I don�t really care if it�s because of some profound family dysfunction, or if it�s just because she�s embarrassed. I just want her to have the abortion so she can get on with her life.

Part of the problem with pro-choice rhetoric is that it sometimes almost sounds as though it accepts the notion that abortions are bad by definition -- the least bad option in many cases, but still bad. And it�s hard to convince people that you�re right if what you�re telling them is that you want women to have the right to make a bad choice. If you do accept that, then it�s a short hop to Justice Kennedy�s newfound position, which is that the government should be able to save women from making a bad choice they�ll regret, since they�re not adult enough to know that they should make the �right� choice.

And one more thing -- as long as we�re passing laws mandating that women who seek abortions have to be lectured about what sluts they are, or have to be shown a sonogram to make them feel guilty, why not pass laws mandating that any woman seeking an abortion has to be given a prescription for birth control pills, and maybe some free samples for the first few months to get her started? Any state legislators out there want to get moving on that?

--Paul Waldman

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