Parents have the right to make medical decisions for their children. That is the case for virtually all medical procedures, whether it’s something small, like getting routine vaccinations or their teeth cleaned, or larger ones, like having a surgery performed. Yet somehow, abortion is supposed to be the one exception. And Hillary Kieft of New Zealand has been fighting hard to change that.
Kieft’s daughter had an abortion when she was a teenager without her parents’ knowledge. Her school arranged everything, with the school nurse driving her to the abortion facility during school hours, and didn’t notify the Kiefts or get their permission. The nurse outright lied, making up an excuse for why their daughter would be home late. They had no idea anything had happened, but their daughter’s behavior changed. She began trying to harm herself. Then, she tried to commit suicide. It was only then that they learned that not only had their daughter undergone an abortion, but the abortionist botched the procedure, leaving their 15-year-old daughter unable to have children.
Kieft was outraged that such a thing could happen, and launched a mission to get parental consent laws passed in New Zealand. Unfortunately, the parliament refused to change the law. To add insult to injury, no one contacted Kieft to tell her that her petition had failed.
“I’m angry. I’m angry. Us parents who have gone through this, we know nothing will change, it will keep going on. Girls will still have abortions, girls will still take their lives and parents will still be kept in the dark and left to clean up the mess,” Kieft said. And despite this setback, she refuses to give up. “I will rally all the parents up to stand with me, this fight is not over, it’s just begun. There needs to be a real uprising by parents, we need to come together and say ‘no way,’ we’ve got to settle this.”
This family’s tragic story illustrates just why parental consent laws are needed. There is a reason why teenagers are not allowed to make virtually any important decision without parental consent: they are physiologically incapable of making long-term decisions and weighing risks the way that adults can. While it’s easy to forget, teenagers are still growing and developing, and that includes their brains. The area that allows people to consider consequences of their actions, solve problems, and make long-term decisions does not finish forming until the mid-twenties. This is why teenagers are known to engage in risky and impulsive behavior so much more often than adults do. Yet we are supposed to sit back and allow these children to make such an enormously huge decision on their own?
A 14-year-old is not, in all likelihood, going to do research on fetal development, or the risks of abortion. A teenager is also not likely to consider all of her options and weigh them equally. As the Kiefts found out — too late, thanks to the school nurse — abortion can be dangerous. There are numerous risks. And considering that a teenager can’t even get her ears pierced without a parent giving the OK, it’s insane to think that they should be allowed to undergo a risky, irreversible procedure without their parents approving it first.
Unsurprisingly, parental consent laws receive widespread support, with the exception of the abortion industry. In the United States, people overwhelmingly are in favor of parental consent requirements, and in New Zealand, four out of five people said they support them.