Wednesday, March 28, 2007

North Dakota, Again*

That is one pesky name for a state, Dakota, when it comes to the treatment of women. South Dakota was most recently in the news for the abortion bill which would have declared abortion illegal (if Roe v. Wade falls) except when the mother's life is threatened had it not been defeated in a referendum later on. Now the North Dakota state House has decided that pregnant teenagers can't access prenatal care without their parents' knowledge:

Pregnant girls should get adult permission before they get medical checkups for their unborn babies, the state House decided as representatives defeated a proposal to allow teenagers to seek confidential prenatal care.

North Dakota law now requires a doctor to have permission from a parent or guardian to treat pregnant girls who are younger than 18.

The rejected measure would have allowed pregnant girls to see a doctor privately, although it required health care providers to try to coax their patients to tell their parents about a pregnancy.

Bitch, Ph.D., wrote about the feminist implications of this, so I can concentrate on the health implications. Note what this requirement to tell the parents to get prenatal care means for a pregnant teen whose relationship with her parents is a bad one. Suppose that she is afraid of them, afraid of them possibly kicking her out or beating her or at least yelling at her a lot. And suppose then that she realizes that the moment all this will happen is when she seeks prenatal care. What do you think she might do? I'm trying to imagine being, say, fourteen and pregnant and with parents I fear. I'd delay the prenatal care as long as possible.

And that is very bad news, because being pregnant at an early age can pose special medical risks.

The proponents of getting the parents involved are all about parental rights but not for the teenager, and they explicitly discount the importance of the kind of case I described. But wouldn't it be just those teenagers who would NOT tell their parents in any case?

Or in a very short form: Pregnant teenagers can stay without prenatal care and not need any permission from their parents for that. Now that is upside-down.
*My apologies for confusing South and North Dakota initially.