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Uppers, Downers & All Points in Between

Should They Know?
Do Teens Have Privacy When it comes to Abortion?
Author: Maria Orozco

Linda Gonzalez clearly remembers the day she and her 
partner walked back to his house, holding each other. 
She told him she was pregnant, and he held her even 
closer. It was a dream come true for them, but 
unfortunately it happened sooner than expected. A few 
weeks later, Linda had an abortion. Her parents never 
found out.
In California, it is legal to have an abortion without 
parental consent. But in thirty other states, 
teenagers require parental consent in order to have an 
abortion. The Family Code provisions law, which grants 
minors confidential access to all pregnancy-related 
care such as contraception, abortion, and counseling 
for sexual assault, has caused a great deal of 
uneasiness among many parents and school districts. 
Just recently in Scotts Valley, a group of parents 
along with the Capital Resource Institute, a pro-
family advocacy group, attempted to override this law. 
They strongly believe parents should be notified prior 
to their child being released for such sensitive 
Lynn McKibbin, the Maternal, Child and Adolescent 
Health Director in Santa Cruz County, thinks there is 
a motive behind these actions. “I personally think 
their main concern is abortion,” she said. “They are 
not opposed to any other sensitive services granted to 
teens by this law, except abortion.” The Family Code 
provisions law, which grants teens the right to 
sensitive services such as abortion without parents’ 
approval, has been accepted in California, New York, 
Washington, Oregon, and Connecticut; while it remains 
illegal in thirty other states. To abolish this law 
would be detrimental to women, McKibbin 
believes. “What I know law to say, is that minors can 
sign their own consent for sensitive services, such as 
abortion and mental health care,” she said. “If such 
law is restricted, it would be like depriving women of 
their freedom.”
McKibbin believes the reason many teenagers choose to 
have an abortion without notifying their parents is 
because of a lack of communication between child and 
parent. Fear, embarrassment, rebellion, and “it’s none 
of your business,” are among the many reasons a child 
might not communicate with a parent. “I encourage 
parents to talk to their child, whether they had an 
abortion, if they are planning on having an abortion, 
or even before they become sexually active,” McKibbin 
said. “This is where communication has to happen, and 
it’s a great opportunity for the child-and-parent 
relationship to grow.” McKibbin emphasizes that 
becoming upset does not help a teen who has had an 
abortion. It often makes the matter worse. “Sit your 
child down, feed him some dinner, and express your 
concern,” McKibbin said. “Talk to them, don’t scream.” 
To many teen-agers, abortion is a very stressful, 
moral struggle. When a teen girl becomes pregnant, she 
may question her maturity to raise a child and fear 
her parents’ reaction to her pregnancy and decision to 
get an abortion. She might also fear the loss of trust 
and respect her parents might have. 
Gonzalez, a teenager from Watsonville, believes that 
abortion is a very private issue. “Teenagers should be 
given the right to have an abortion without the 
notification of parents,” she said. “Sometimes parents 
can be very critical and close-minded.” However, 
having an abortion wasn’t the only concern Gonzalez 
dealt with then. The fear of what her parents might 
think terrified her. “The fact that I knew there was a 
chance my parents would find out about my abortion not 
only worried me but it terrified me,” she said. “I was 
afraid of the disappointment I would be to my parents, 
and feared their rejection.” Gonzalez comes from a 
Catholic family, where sex before marriage is 
considered immoral.
Many teenagers are not ready for the responsibility of 
having a child. Teenage girls may consider abortion a 
relief, since they will not have to sacrifice their 
social lives, future careers, or social future goals. 
Katie Mezias, another teenager from Watsonville, feels 
that an unwanted pregnancy can do all these. “Abortion 
is like a blessing to many teen-agers like me, 
especially when parents are not notified,” Mezias 
said. “Teenagers who choose to have a baby ruin their 
social and career lives.” Mezias is among those 
teenagers that strongly believes abortion with 
parents’ approval adds more frustration and stress to 
the issue. “If parents find out about your abortion, 
all they do is scream at you, judge you for your 
decision, and reject you,” Mezias said.  
Teenagers who choose to have an abortion may not be 
certain about the process and the side effects of the 
procedure. In some cases adolescents are so concerned 
about terminating their pregnancies that they forget 
to ask themselves what risks they are taking. In 
Gonzalez’s case, for example, she didn’t know the 
process of having an abortion and feared the side 
effects. “I wasn’t ready emotionally, mentally, and 
economically to be a mother,” she said. “I didn’t want 
to raise a child in the conditions I was living in 
then. I have to admit I was really scared, I didn’t 
know what I was getting myself into.” For Linda, 
having an abortion was a very hard experience. Not 
only getting rid of her baby, but the side effects 
that came after. “They were awful. I had heavy vaginal 
bleeding and I was constantly nauseous,” she 
Even though one out of four pregnancies ends in 
abortion, several abortion questions still remain 
untouched. Rebecca Siler, a health educator at 
Westside Planned Parenthood Clinic, explained what an 
abortion is. “An abortion is the termination of a 
pregnancy up to fourteen weeks, and the process can be 
either a surgical or non-surgical process,” she 
said. “An abortion through a non-surgical process 
consists of medication, which if taken daily can 
induce the miscarriage.” When I asked what we could do 
to prevent an abortion, she clearly stated, “Well, to 
prevent an abortion, first you need to prevent a 
pregnancy. You can do this by using contraception, 
which includes every method of birth control such as 
condoms and the birth control pill.” However, she 
clearly stated that abstinence is the number one way 
to prevent a pregnancy, transmitted diseases, and in 
this case, abortion.