When Teenagers Seek Abortion Care: 5 Myths Exposed
Written by Amanda Marcotte for RHRealityCheck.org - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.
It was a seemingly small story, one of those reproductive rights-related stories that crops up in the news, attracts some amount of attention, and then fades away as other stories crowd it out. But I want to look a little more closely at this story about a Seattle mother who is furious that her 15-year-old daughter got a legal abortion with the school health center’s help without telling her mother. To be completely clear, this was 100 percent within the law. Washington state understands that parental notification laws are an assault on the well-being of teenagers and so far has no such laws. The school health center is run not by the school but by the public health department, and students who go to the health center -- including this girl -- have permission to receive care due to permission slips signed by their parents.
Abortion is a safe, legal medical procedure, and there is no reason for school health centers not to refer patients to providers if those patients want it. That’s the simple fact of the matter, but unfortunately, that’s not where this story ends. What this story has revealed is that a number of pernicious anti-choice myths have taken hold in our society, and these myths are confusing people’s ability to see the plain truth of this story. Here’s some of the anti-choice myths touched on by the coverage of this story in both the conservative and mainstream news, and the reality behind these myths.
Myth #1: Abortion isn’t healthcare. Conservative bloggers and the mother in question trotted out this myth, saying that giving the health center permission to offer medical services should implicitly mean not abortion. The implication of this is that abortion is not a medical service, a myth that was also trotted out by supporters of the Stupak amendment to the healthcare reform bill, who tried to argue that abortion can’t be considered real healthcare. But this myth doesn’t reflect the basic reality of abortion, which fits all medical and cultural criteria for health care, if you look at without the burden of anti-woman ideology. Healthcare professionals offer it, others refer it, and it’s simply one out of many medical responses to pregnancies that are both healthy and not healthy. It’s also on a continuum from pregnancy prevention services, which are generally regarded by non-misogynists as healthcare. Strictly speaking, aborting or preventing pregnancy is regarded as safer by medical professionals than continuing to term, which is very stressful on the body, particularly for teenagers whose bodies may not be done growing and developing.
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