Alabama, eager to be the national leader in something besides painkiller prescriptions, had a parental consent law go into effect this summer that goes further than any other state in dehumanizing and humiliating abortion-seeking teens who don't want to get their parents involved. A girl who doesn't want to or cannot ask her parents' permission to abort will essentially be put on trial, and the state will be allowed to call witnesses to the girl's character — teachers, friends, and coworkers — who will deem her fit or unfit for an abortion. Also, her fetus gets its own lawyer. Welcome to Gilead.
Laws that require parental consent for minors who wish to have abortions have been ruled constitutional as long as states have a "judicial bypass" in place that allows teens who do not want to get their parents involved to obtain an abortion with the permission of a judge. (As Think Progress's Tara Culp-Ressler notes, 38 states currently have these laws on their books. Fuck.) Alabama's law, however, is heinous in a special new way.
Now, the state is allowed to call teachers, parents, neighbors, boyfriends, or peers to testify against the teenage girl, even if that means disclosing her pregnancy to people in her life who didn't previously know about it. Alabama may also hire someone to represent the fetus' "best interests" in court. So the new law ultimately ensures that a minor who needs an abortion and isn't comfortable telling her parents will be up against the whole legal system. She'll be forced to defend herself against a district attorney who's arguing she's unfit to make this decision on her own.
If the young woman is deemed unfit to decide to abort her fetus, she is essentially sentenced to unwilling motherhood. Who says America has run out of new ideas?
The ACLU has filed suit against the law, claiming that it's unconstitutional garbage. The existence of Alabama's parental notification law also makes a person wonder what sort of lawmaker would conceive of and pass something like this: people who are too stupid to realize the implications that it could have on the lives of pregnant teens OR people who are fully aware of the humiliation a young woman could face as her classmates and teachers are called to talk about her pregnancy in a courtroom? Idiots or psychos? And how in the hell is either category of person getting elected in the first place?
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