TESTIMONY IN OPPOSITION TO HB629
AN ACT RELATIVE TO CONSENT AND COUNSELING

Joint Committee on Public health
May 10, 2010


Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) is a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to strengthening the family and the traditional Judeo-Christian values upon which the family is based. We oppose HB 629 because it would lower the age of consent for a minor to obtain an abortion and significantly increase the number of people who can give consent for a minor to obtain an abortion. In both categories this bill would undermine parents’ rights regarding the health and welfare of their children.

Public opinion polls consistently show the majority of Americans understand the value of parental involvement and notification before a minor’s abortion. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the constitutionality of parental involvement laws. These laws do not limit a teenage girl’s access to abortion; they merely require a parent to at least be notified before the fact. Parental involvement decreases the risk of medical complications connected with an abortion by allowing parents to provide important medical information and history their daughter may not know or provide.

It is radical and irresponsible to lower the age of consent from 18 to 16. Children under 18 need parental consent to get a tattoo or body piercing. Parents of children under 18 must give consent for disbursement of aspirin in schools, and parents are responsible for paying the medical bills incurred with any complications following an abortion.

Being physically able to conceive a child does not necessarily mean the child is mature enough to make a major decision of choosing an abortion. Most teenage girls are not prepared for the physical, emotional, and psychological aftermath of an abortion. They need their parents’ protection and involvement during this time to benefit from the best possible counsel and care before, during and after an abortion decision.

Expanding the number of people that can give consent for a minor to have an abortion puts teenagers who are victims of rape or incest at risk for repeated abuse. Far too often the person abusing a young girl is a family member. Allowing that same family member to give consent for the victim to get an abortion would violate statutory rape and incest laws, and only serve to continue the abuse cycle. Including licensed doctors, physician assistants, RNs, LPNs, and mental health professionals, who cannot give an aspirin to a minor without parental consent, would only further erode parental rights and the need for their counsel and involvement in the lives of their children.

Please give HB 629 an unfavorable report.

Sincerely,

Maureen Vacca
Director of Public Policy

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