In their unsuccessful opposition to House Bill 3994, abortion advocates argued that granting minors unrestricted access to secret abortions without parental consent is essential to their well-being. The disingenuous soundbite of the abortion industry is that the state’s loophole-ridden judicial bypass process protects minors by keeping abusive parents out of the picture. But the arguments did not stand up to scrutiny, and the House overwhelmingly passed the reform measure as the clock ran out on the 84th Legislative Session.
Texas is not the only locale where flimsy protections for minors are being called into question. In New Zealand, one family is on a crusade to change their region’s law – similar to that of Texas – which allows minors to undergo abortions without the knowledge or consent of their parents. In New Zealand, a privacy law allows minors to undergo abortions secretly if they elect not to inform their parents. New Zealand columnist Narelle Henson explains the New Zealand law:
It allows a girl to undergo a physically dangerous and emotionally traumatic event alone – no questions asked. It allows her abuser to continue getting away with his abuse – no questions asked. But have the same parent turn up with the same child to sign off more than one abortion and you have a great reason to start asking questions that could rescue a victim and condemn a perpetrator.
After all, as anyone who has read the harrowing accounts of sexual abuse victims will know, abortion clinics are a popular way of disposing of the “evidence” of abuse.
In 2010, Hillary Kieft’s 15-year-old daughter became pregnant and was afraid to tell her parents, because she was ashamed and thought they would be disappointed in her. The girl’s boarding school arranged the abortion appointment, which was carried out through Family Planning, a nationwide nonprofit that funds “reproductive health” services. When her daughter did not come home the afternoon of the abortion, Hillary called the school; the staff lied and told her that her daughter was at a “counseling” appointment. She came home later that day, and her mother was completely unaware of the ordeal her daughter had just faced alone.
Family Planning failed to provide any follow up whatsoever after the abortion. “She was dumped off at home that day and we were left to deal with the mess, although we didn't even know what was going on,” said Hillary. One year later, the teen tried to commit suicide. That’s when the walls came crashing down and the secret abortion was revealed.
The abortion ravaged Hillary’s daughter—emotionally, psychologically, and physically. Today, the young woman is infertile because of the abortion. Her parents remained on suicide watch after the abortion, knowing something had changed causing their daughter to withdraw, but unaware that the root of the problem was a secret abortion. Emotionally, the young woman is still tortured all these years later: “My daughter is constantly reliving that decision,” said Hillary. “If she could go back and change it, she would. Every anniversary of the abortion, she falls apart.”
Narelle Henson pointed to the absurdity of thinking children can make life-altering decisions alone when adults themselves struggle with the same decisions: “We think it's humane to ask girls to make a choice between life and death at the age of 15, without the support of their parents to help them. We pretend girls, whose brains are still developing, whose ability to engage in abstract reasoning and whose emotions towards their parents are going through a lull, can deal with the consequences by themselves.”
Texas Right to Life is proud of the Pro-Life legislators who brought HB 3994 to the Governor’s desk. Because of their dedication, minors, their parents, and their preborn children may avoid the kind of devastation that follows when loving parents are excluded from some of the most important decisions of their young daughters’ lives.