Saturday, March 3, 2012

THE LEGAL WORLD : Teenagers and Abortion


I know that I've already talked about abortion. Abortion is a topic that I could talk about for hours because it it so multi-faceted and has so much controversial baggage. 

Today, let's focus on teenagers. In California, teenage girls are allowed to decide whether to abort their fetus or not. Once a woman turns sixteen, she can legally decide what to do with her body, even though she is legally under the supervision of her parents. We have Roe v. Wade to thank for that. The famous court decision has withstood countless of attacks from pro-life campaigners for years. 

Though we have this constitutional right, there are limitations. At age sixteen, girls can decide whether or not to have an abortion. But, if these same minors are pregnant with child for more than 24 weeks, they cannot abort unless it is for a medical emergency. Reread that last sentence and think for a moment: what about the girls who don't know about the 24 week expiration date? 24 weeks roles around, and boom-- bye, bye Roe v. Wade and the choice of an abortion (unless, as said, the pregnancy warrants a medical emergency). It is often seen that doctors who "supply abortions," delay pregnant women in need of an abortion by claiming that the women "have fevers," are "too underweight," or simply telling the women that they have been placed on a "wait list." The doctor conveniently extends this reasoning for 24 weeks, and voila: no abortion. As a result, many young women are forced to choose between an illegal abortion or keeping the fetus. 

Some states have even made it mandatory to force young women to have an ultrasound before deciding to have an abortion. The main point here is that a young woman can then hear her baby's heartbeat, fastening the maternal connection and manipulating the mother into reconsidering her previous choice of abortion. The thing is, women should have this knowledge too. But, what of the women who are undereducated, and therefore, more easily swayed by such ploys? If a girl is 16 and she's not ready? Hearing her baby's heartbeat is not necessarily going to make her anymore prepared.

More and more pressure has been put on the government to restrict the ability of a woman to choose what is best for her body and her life. As women, we have to make sure that our rights are protected. Don't let these subtle manipulations pass you by. Take a stand. 

The Woman Behind the Legal World Section:
 Christina Ontiveros is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. She is double majoring in Legal Studies and Anthropology, and is an excellent and dedicated student. She is passionate and loyal; we can all count ourselves lucky that one day she might just be our lawyer! 

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