Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Missouri's Fugitive Girl Act

It's too bad NPR doesn't put up transcripts of their stories sooner. This morning they had an excellent report on Missouri's Fugitive Girl Act. You can listen to it for now by clicking on the link, but here's the summary:
Morning Edition, November 15, 2006 ยท The Missouri Supreme Court hears arguments on a law that would allow parents to bring civil lawsuits against people who assist a minor in getting an abortion without parental consent, even if the abortion takes place out of state. The law is similar to a federal effort to enact criminal penalties for those who help minors cross state lines to get an abortion. Kathy Lohr reports.
I found an analysis of an attempted federal version of the law at
There are people I respect who believe in required parental notification: Even minor medical procedures require parental consent; parents should be involved in the most consequential decisions of their children's lives; who wouldn't want to talk with their daughter about a choice this fundamental to her future? Those who see abortion as murder view the new prohibitions as a way to reduce their toll and protect young women from a morally destructive act. They see themselves as the new abolitionists.

But to me these arguments abstract the actual lives of the young girls who are pregnant. We need to do everything we can to encourage our children to talk with us about all kinds of difficult choices. But we're not talking about idealized families where trust and harmony prevails. We're talking about situations where trust has broken down to the point where a girl fears to tell her parents that she's pregnant. The reason could be physical violence, incest, or pervasive verbal abuse. It could be a tone of unremitting judgment that makes a girl fear condemnation no matter what choice she makes. It could simply be the certainty that her parents will force her to have a child for which she is unready.
This isn't some abstraction, and it's especially disturbing that the people pushing these laws seem to have some very big problems with sexuality. Frankly, I used to think it was a cheap shot to joke about Christian conservative hang-ups and perversions, but there have been too many instances of alleged Republicans and Christians engaging in twisted behavior.

It doesn't get discussed much, but at its core the anti-abortion movement is not really about abortion. If it was conservatives would spend their time trying to find practical ways to reduce unwanted pregnancy, even if it meant passing out condoms. But they don't do that, of course.

Instead, they spend their time trying to pass destructive legislation like the Fugitive Girl Act and endorsing abstinence-only education...which just isn't a realistic solution.

I guess I don't understand what happened to conservatives to make them so afraid of their own sexuality, and my understanding of psychology is severely limited. But at an intuitive level, most Americans are probably starting to understand that when a man sings too loud on Saturday night and prays too loud on Sunday morning, it's best to go home and lock the smokehouse. (Props to Harry S. Truman's grandfather.)

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