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A Minute With…U of I Professor Advocates Secret Abortions for Minors

John Powers 29 June 2010 No Comment

Reading my University of Illinois news yesterday, I came upon an advocacy interview (the lead story, in fact) with Professor Leslie Reagan promoting abortion for minors without parental notification.  With the U of I in dire financial trouble, and under attack for admissions preferences, I sincerely question the wisdom of releasing an abortion promo as an official news piece from the University of Illinois.

The interview is presented as a matter of fact, not opinion.  What business does a University have advocating in this area?  Why are our tax dollars (and tuition, and endowment) being spent to support a political position?

From the University of Illinois news feature A Minute With…

Leslie Reagan, professor of law, history and women’s studies
An Illinois law that would require teenagers to notify their parents before getting abortions has been on hold for 15 years, stalled by ongoing legal challenges alleging privacy, gender equality and other violations of civil liberties. Leslie J. Reagan, a professor of law, of history and of women’s studies, discusses the still-pending law and its implications in an interview with News Bureau Business & Law Editor Jan Dennis. Reagan examines the history of abortion in her newest book, “Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities and Abortion in Modern America.”

Abortion opponents argue that parents should be involved when teens consider terminating a pregnancy, while abortion rights advocates maintain good family communication cannot be mandated. What are your thoughts on that debate?

There is no debate on whether it’s a good idea for teenagers to talk with their parents about pregnancy and the possibility of an abortion. In fact, most teens do talk with at least one parent about their abortions, and many bring parents with them to clinics for the abortion procedure. Creating good communication within families, however, is not what these laws are about. Their purpose is to frighten teenagers who are afraid to admit their sexuality and their pregnancies to their parents and to make the process of receiving an abortion as scary, slow and stigmatized as possible. This statute includes a 48-hour waiting period. That waiting period can be logistically difficult for a teenager to negotiate – getting across town or to another county, finding rides or missing school.

For some teens, it is dangerous to speak with parents who are abusive. Some want to protect stressed parents from this crisis, while others are scared and no law will make them talk to their parents. Parental consent laws include a “judicial bypass” option, which allows the teenager to talk with a judge and explain why she cannot talk with her parents about her decision. However, this too is designed to intimidate young women. Few adults would feel comfortable talking with a judge about their sex lives. Teenagers, if they even know of this option, are highly likely to avoid this humiliating process of gaining permission.

In the face of these restrictive laws, a few couples have induced miscarriages by having boyfriends beat young women’s stomachs. These efforts reveal the high level of desperation and lack of information among some teens.

There are now young women attempting to self-induce abortions using bleach and other substances who are landing in emergency rooms. This is a horrific step backward in time. When abortion was illegal in the United States, hospitals had separate wards for septic-infected abortion cases. Cook County Hospital saw nearly 5,000 women every year coming in infected, injured or bleeding because of self-induced and illegal abortions. When abortion was legalized, these wards disappeared.

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