As I’ve shared in posts before – here and here – I believe emphatically that abortion is wrong and as Christians, we should graciously hold and believe in everything that upholds the sanctity of life – which includes protecting the lives of the unborn.
But how? The government should be involved but how does a government legislate and enforce such a value? And I agree with others that the church needs to be careful not to relinquish – blindly or in totality – our responsibilities to a mostly secular government. As I wrote earlier:
Rather than legislating it, I wonder how abortions can be reduced by speaking and appealing to the Heart and Soul of a person and to make all necessary provisions if a person decides to have that baby. In short, can we maintain choice but do all that we can to preserve and ensure the life of an unborn? This is where most of us fall short.
I find it incredibly frustrating and naive when Christians take a stance of being against abortion at all costs but are unwilling to yield to issues that have direct correlation to abortions: sex education in schools [starting in middle school], health care benefits for low income families and women, post birth care and benefits, usage of contraceptives, etc.
Having said that, I was reading an article online on the airplane en route to Seattle from Guatemala (research trip for One Day’s Wages) about a 15-year-old girl who ended up getting an abortion without her parent’s knowledge. She is a student at Ballard High School in Seattle (which is couple blocks from my home) and the school that my 6th grader will be attending in couple years.
It is true that Washington is one of seven states that give minors the right to act alone in deciding whether to have an abortion, [The other states are Oregon, Hawaii, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, & Washington, D.C.]. And yes, it is true that no laws were broken through this situation but the fact that
a life was terminated, a 15-year-old can have an abortion AND have one without the knowledge of her parents are incredibly tragic.
Abortion is normalized in our culture. Choice is celebrated and beautified. But take a step back and just soak in the tragedy of the story…
Here’s the story reported first via KOMO News:
The mother of a Ballard High School student is fuming after the health center on campus helped facilitate her daughter’s abortion during school hours.
Worse yet, the mother, whom KOMO News has chosen to identify only as “Jill,” says the clinic kept the information “confidential.”
When she signed a consent form, Jill figured it meant her 15 year old could go to the Ballard Teen Health Center located inside the high school for an earache, a sports physical, even birth control, but not for help terminating a pregnancy.
“She took a pregnancy test at school at the teen health center,” she said. “Nowhere in this paperwork does it mention abortion or facilitating abortion.”
Jill says her daughter, a pro-life advocate, was given a pass, put in a taxi and sent off to have an abortion during school hours all without her family knowing.
“We had no idea this was being facilitated on campus,” said Jill. “They just told her that if she concealed it from her family, that it would be free of charge and no financial responsibility.”
The Seattle School District says it doesn’t run the health clinics at high schools. Swedish Medical Center runs the clinic at Ballard High and protects the students’ privacy.
T.J. Cosgrove of the King County Health Department, who administers the school-based programs for the health department, says it’s always best if parents are involved in their children’s health care, but don’t always have a say.
“At any age in the state of Washington, an individual can consent to a termination of pregnancy,” he said.
But Jill says she not only didn’t have a say in her daughter’s abortion, but also didn’t know about it.
“Makes me feel like my rights were completely stripped away.”
And a little more clarification from the Seattle Times:
County health officials say they will try to spell out more clearly the range of services available to minors after an incident in which a pregnant Ballard High student got an abortion, apparently without her mother’s knowledge, some time after visiting a school-based health-care center.
The consent form parents and guardians sign for children to use the county-administered health centers states, “Youth may independently access reproductive-health care at any age,” but it does not explicitly cite abortion.
“Not every individual is aware of what is included in ‘reproductive-health care,’ ” acknowledged T.J. Cosgrove of Public Health — Seattle & King County, which runs the centers for the school district. “We’re going to work constructively with our partners and experts in adolescent health to strategize the best ways to communicate that.”
The incident, first reported earlier this week by KOMO-TV, involved a 15-year-old girl referred by the health center to a medical facility, where the abortion was performed.
The referral was done in accordance with state law, which gives minors the right to receive reproductive services, including abortion, without consent from parents, guardians or the baby’s father.
“From a legal/procedural standpoint, it’s a nonissue,” said Seattle School District spokeswoman Teresa Wippel.
KOMO reported the girl’s mother was upset about not having been told of the situation, but that she had signed a consent form at some point allowing her daughter to use the health center.
Public Health — Seattle & King County operates 14 school-based health centers in Seattle — 10 at high schools, four at middle schools — and two sites in the Kent and Tukwila school districts.
Organizations such as Group Health Cooperative and Seattle Children’s hospital are contracted to run the clinics. Ballard High’s is operated by Swedish Medical Center.
Though procedure was followed, the incident generated outrage in some corners.
“What that school did was unconscionable,” read one posting on the Fox News Channel Web site.
Cosgrove said reproductive services, including termination of pregnancy, could have originated in any health-care setting, whether a pediatrician’s office or community clinic.
“It’s not unique to school-based health-care centers,” he said.
Washington is one of seven states that give minors the right to act alone in deciding whether to have an abortion. The other states are Oregon, Hawaii, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Parental involvement is also not required in Washington, D.C.
Thirty-six states do require some form of parental involvement — notification and/or consent — though most make exceptions in cases of medical emergencies, abuse, neglect or incest.
Seven more passed parental-involvement laws but courts have enjoined them from enforcing those laws.
At King County’s school-based health centers, once a pregnancy is confirmed, center staffers discuss options with the girl.
Abortions are not provided at the health centers; rather, a girl who wants one is referred elsewhere, and clinic staff may help make the appointment.
“But that is no different than how it would be handled in any health-care setting,” Cosgrove said.
He said health-center staffers also remind students of the importance of health care and inclusion of a supportive network — family members, for instance.
Payment is handled either through a girl’s private health plan or through income-based public-health options available to individuals.
Follow-up care and counseling are part of routine care offered by health-care providers.
Cosgrove was dismayed by the furor this week over the issue, noting that reproductive care is just a small part of what the county offers to minors.
Reproductive services are part of the county’s strategy to prevent unplanned pregnancies and keep kids in school. Pregnancy is the No. 1 reason girls drop out of school, Cosgrove said.
photo credit: flickr