Opinion

Double standard? Court rules teen not mature enough to make health decision, yet teens abort without parental notice

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I remember the day the governor of Connecticut came to visit my church. Governor Dan Malloy talked to our congregation about increasing the minimum wage and urged those without insurance to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.

As I listened to his speech, I realized I had to talk to him. I knew that if I didn’t take the opportunity to approach him, I might not have another chance. As he left the building with his companions, I hurried after him. After thanking him for coming, I asked to share something important. He obliged, and I told him that allowing abortions without parental notifications or consent was dangerous for young women in our state. I shared that pimps use abortion to keep sex-trafficked girls in business. I mentioned that it’s unsafe for teenagers to be able to get a potentially life-altering procedure without allowing their parents to know. The governor looked at me and politely nodded.

Connecticut is coming under fire after its Supreme Court ruled that a 17-year-old girl must undergo chemotherapy against her own will. The teenager in the case, Cassandra, and her mother Jackie are interested in seeking alternative treatments to chemotherapy. Cassandra has Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Medical experts say chemo can give her an 85% chance for life, and without it, she could die in two years.

ABC News reports that Cassandra let the press know she doesn’t want such “toxic harmful drugs” in her body. She shared that “being forced into the surgery and chemo has traumatized me.” She wrote a letter stating, “I do believe I am mature enough to make the decision to refuse the chemo, but it shouldn’t be about maturity, it should be a given human right to decide what you want and don’t want for your own body.”

This case has received national attention. Many question why the court would bypass the wishes of this teenager and her mother. In a statement to CNN, the Department of Children and Families claimed they had a “legal and moral responsibility in this case.” They stated, “Under this circumstance — when there is medical consensus that action must be taken or the child will die — the Department has a clear and urgent responsibility to save the life of this child.”

Cassandra’s lawyer is arguing for her right to refuse treatment on the basis that at 17 years old, she is mature enough to make a medical decision. When it comes to obtaining contraception or getting an abortion, the CT courts give teenagers as young as 13 the right to do so. The obvious question is, if the CT Supreme Court rules that a 17-year-old can’t refuse a medical treatment because of immaturity, how are teens as young as 13 considered mature enough to terminate their unborn children?

This is a clear double standard. It’s also an indicator that the courts in Connecticut don’t understand the physical, emotional, psychological risks that accompany abortion. The American Pregnancy Association lists heavy or persistent bleeding, infection or sepsis, damage to the cervix, scarring of the uterine lining, perforation of the uterus, damage to other organs, and death as possible physical side-effects of abortion.

Although not all women who chose abortion will suffer emotional consequences, some will deal with anger, shame, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. I’ve personally spoken to a number of women from teenagers to middle-aged ladies who’ve suffered for years with these negative emotions related to abortion.

When faced with the reality of the physiological and physical side-effects of abortion, should teenagers in CT be allowed to chose the procedure without their parents’ notification? In Cassandra’s case, DCF states that it has a moral responsibility to save this teenager’s life. I long for the day the courts of CT allow their moral and legal responsibility to extend to the teenagers and the pre-born in their state.

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