ANNAPOLIS – Children should not be making surgical decisions, said Delegate Carmen Amedori, R-Carroll, in support of her bill to require parental notification when a child is seeking an abortion.
“We don’t want to put a surgical decision in the hands of a child,” testified Amedori Thursday in the House Health and Government Operations Committee.
A minor seeking an abortion would have to petition the court for a waiver of parental notification under Amedori’s bill. Currently, Maryland is the only state that allows doctors, instead of judges, to override parental notification.
Doctors, who Amedori referred to as “abortionists,” have a financial stake in the minor’s choice and so, should not make the decision, she said.
Parents must know when their child is having major surgery, Amedori said. They are the only ones qualified to provide medical history, family history, post-operative care and deal with long-term consequences like depression, she added.
Abortion-rights activists testified that such a bill is “unnecessary” and “an undue burden for a young girl.”
Maryland already has a working law. It is “not appropriate” to force a young woman to go before a judge, she should be allowed to consult with her doctor with whom she has an established relationship, said Wendy Royalty, Planned Parenthood of Maryland spokesperson.
It is not the state’s responsibility to make laws that mandate healthy family communication, said Diana Onken, regional organizer with Maryland National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
Dr. Carole Meyers, medical director of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, said doctors are in the best position to judge minors.
“We encourage them to involve their parents. Most young women come with a parent and those who don’t, end up contacting a parent,” Meyers said.
However, this failed to sway Mary Ellen Catterton, whose two now-adult daughters were required to get parental notification for much less dangerous things like ear piercing and obtaining a driver’s license.
“This is not a pro- or against abortion issue for me, it’s about parents having the right to know when their child has had major surgery,” she said.
Delegate Robert Costa, R-Anne Arundel, a committee member and bill sponsor, brought up a similar point – a child cannot even be given aspirin in school without a parent being notified.
Opponents also argued the measure would place an undue burden on a young woman who has been sexually abused or is in danger of being physically abused by a parent.
The bill addresses this issue, stating that a court must grant a petition if there is “clear and convincing evidence” of abuse, Amedori said. “Teenagers tend to exaggerate parents’ reactions.”