A teenager should be able to go to a parent when faced with a life-changing decision. That’s why requiring a parent’s permission before a girl younger than 18 can have an abortion would seem to be such a thoughtful and common-sense idea. But the parental notification proposal that is now before the Maine Legislature actually could put a girl’s health and safety at risk, without bringing her family closer together.

If L.D. 83 is approved, it would repeal a 1989 state law that lets a physician determine whether a minor is competent enough to make her own decision on abortion. Instead, a girl 17 or younger wouldn’t be able to undergo the procedure without the signed consent of someone who can provide written proof that they are the girl’s parent.

Most teens who have abortions do, in fact, tell their family beforehand. Sixty-one percent notified at least one parent (usually the mother), according to a 1991 study; more recently, Maine’s abortion providers reported that more than 70 percent of their teen patients involve a parent in their decision.

Teenagers 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. By making it harder for teens to get abortions, moreover, parental consent laws have been shown to boost the likelihood that minors will undergo later, more risky procedures.

Although L.D. 83 does exempt some minors from getting a parent’s written permission, these exceptions could have unintended consequences.

For example, a teen who has the consent of a sibling (age 21 or older), stepparent or grandparent could get an abortion. But she’d also have to give the doctor a written statement alleging that she has been abused by a parent.

So regardless whether she feels safe telling her story, the girl would have to speak up to a physician, whose legal mandate to report suspected harm would expose the teen and her family to a child protective services investigation.

Under L.D. 83, a minor who doesn’t have parental permission could undergo an abortion if a court finds “clear and convincing evidence” that she is “both sufficiently mature and well-informed.” The bill doesn’t define these terms — but young women in other states have found it difficult to secure a judicial waiver. Two years ago, for instance, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that a 16-year-old ward of the state wasn’t mature enough to make this decision on her own — even though she’d helped raise her younger siblings when their parents weren’t around.

In another case, a judge in Alabama rejected a petition brought in 2000 by a 17-year-old who testified that her father was a violent alcoholic who, she believed, “would whip her” if he found out she was pregnant.

Maine’s current informed consent statute ensures that pregnant minors get the guidance they need on the options open to them while acknowledging that not every teen is in a position to consult her parents. There’s no reason to scrap it in favor of a proposal that could put young Maine women in harm’s way.

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