Thursday, January 17, 2008

Utah State Representative Stephen Sandstrom To Propose A Parental Notification Law For Teenage Abortions


Utah State Representative Stephen Sandstrom (R-Orem, House District 58) is putting together a full-frontal assault on the judicial bypass rule for minors wanting abortions. Full stories posted January 17th, 2008 by the Salt Lake Tribune and KSL Channel 5.

Sandstrom (pictured above left) wants a law specifying that a minor, even one making claims of parental abuse, could get an abortion only if her parents are notified and allowed to give their opinion on the matter. Currently, state law allows a minor to get court permission instead of parental consent for an abortion in certain cases, and parents are never notified their child is petitioning the court.

And Sandstrom doesn't like it. "For something as life-altering as an abortion, parents should have a right to say," said Sandstrom.

Sandstrom also would like to reduce the reasons for requesting a bypass to only cases in which the pregnancy was the result of incest or if her parent previously was convicted of child abuse. Currently, a minor has to convince the court the pregnancy has put her at risk of death or debilitating injury, if it was the result of incest, or that her parents will abuse her if they find out she's pregnant or wants an abortion.

Here's a summary of Utah's current law:


Under current law, a minor can ask the court's permission for an abortion instead of their parents' in the following instances:
-- The minor is at risk of serious injury or death due to the pregnancy
-- The minor is pregnant as a result of incest with the parent or guardian
-- The parent has abused the minor
-- The parent has not assumed responsibility for the minor's upbringing.


But opponents say the bill likely will be unconstitutional. The confidentiality clause is the only clause making Utah's abortion law legally sound, said Missy Larsen, Planned Parenthood vice president for public policy. "We already have one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation," Larsen said. "But without confidentiality, the law would violate Roe v. Wade." Larsen also claims that the judicial bypass is rarely used. Only eight minors have sought judicial permission for an abortion since the law was enacted in 2006.

Larsen would prefer that, instead of trying to pass laws that likely will be ruled unconstitutional, Utah leaders focus on the prevention of unplanned pregnancy, Larsen said. "Encourage young women to follow the abstinence-only policies we have in this state," she said. "But if they choose not to follow that, give them the tools they need to stay healthy. Give them comprehensive sex education and access to contraceptives." [Ed. Note: Note that Larsen says "if they, the teenage girls, choose...". This is bogus. It should read "if the parents permit them"... Planned Parenthood has little regard for parental sovereignty.]

Sandstrom this week is scheduled to meet with Rick Schwermer, assistant state court administrator, to see if a "simple tweak" in the rules would accomplish the same thing as legislative action. "Court officers are forbidden from disclosing information or notifying parents," said Schwermer. But Sandstrom believes a parental notification law will stand up in court.

And Sandstrom may be right. While a parental consent law might be overturned, even in conservative Utah, a parental notification law may well stand up to a court test. In a recent example, back in November 2007, the Alaska Supreme Court, by a 3-2 decision, overturned Alaska's parental consent law on the basis that it robs a pregnant teen of her constitutional right to make such an important decision herself and transfers that right to her parents. However, Alaska Chief Justice Dana Fabe also opined that a law that merely required parents to be notified of a juvenile daughter's plan to have an abortion would be all right, based upon precedences established by other states.

A new article just published January 18th in the Deseret Morning News also indicates that Sandstrom has the support of most Utahns: Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed in a recent poll favor no longer allowing a girl to bypass her parent or guardian, and only 26 percent strongly oppose tightening the law. The poll of 413 Utah residents was conducted Jan. 8-10 and has a margin of error of 5 percent.

In checking the Utah State Legislature website, I find that Rep. Sandstrom has not yet officially filed this proposed new bill. However, Sandstrom has filed a related bill, HB236, which simply proposes a series of amendments to Utah's Criminal Code regarding abortion.

Commentary: It's too bad they're not going for a full-blown parental consent law. Tennagers under 18 are not considered emancipated citizens, but are wards of the state to be placed under the operational command and control of parents or responsible adults.

Because of this, parents are held responsible when their kids commit offenses against the community. Yet to deny parents the right to control the actions of their kids by forbidding them veto power over their actions imposes impossible conditions upon the parents. They're damned if they do, and they're damned if they don't. If society wants parents to exercise responsibility, they must be given authority.

However, since full-blown parental consent laws have been struck down by other states, it is appropriate to go for the more-limited parental notification law at this time. The important long-range goal is to get rid of Roe v. Wade - whether we blow it up in fell swoop or chisel away at it bit by bit probably doesn't matter.

What's disconcerting is the inordinate amount of interest and attention directed towards our youth by Planned Parenthood. It is quite similar to the inordinate interest directed towards our youth by the homosexual lobby. Both these lobbies seem very reluctant to back off and allow parents to raise their kids. They act as sort of a loco parentis. The excessive interest these two lobbies show in our youth must be viewed with suspicion. Read this essay to find out about one group of people who relentlessly promote abortion.

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