The Right of Rights

In the past two weeks, two events taking place 857 miles apart show just how absurd our ideas about "freedom" have become. One of the events involved a 13-year-old girl known only as "L. G." "L. G." has been in the custody of the Florida's Department of Children & Families (DCF) since she was nine. In late January, "L. G." ran away from the DCF shelter and, during her absence, became pregnant. After her return, her caseworker arranged for an abortion. On the day the abortion was scheduled, DCF requested a court order delaying the abortion. DCF argued that it has the "custodial responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the child." At the hearing, "L. G.," who was represented by the Florida ACLU, justified her decision by saying that "it would make no sense to have the baby." She asked the judge, "Why can't I make my own decision?" -- 13-year-old girl. The judge delayed the abortion long enough for "L. G." to be examined psychologically. When, as expected, she passed the exam, he ruled that she could have an abortion. Florida officials announced that they would "respectfully comply with the court's decision." The truth is that they didn't have any choice. A 2003 Florida Supreme Court ruling struck down a state law requiring parental notification in the case of a minor seeking an abortion. If parents don't have the right to be notified, what good does it to require parental consent? At the same time this was going on, the House of Representatives debated a law that makes it "illegal to dodge parental-consent laws by taking minors across state lines for abortions." As the law now stands, an unrelated adult who takes a 13-year-old from, say, Pennsylvania to New Jersey to have an abortion without her parent's knowledge hasn't violated any law. Well, the majority in Congress is trying to change this. But, predictably, an ACLU spokesman said that the bill "reflects a lack of compassion toward teens." Just as predictably, "abortion-rights" advocates tried to tack on exceptions that would have swallowed the rule. What's missing in all of this talk about "decisions" and "compassion" is any appreciation of the absurdity that underlies the abortion debate. In any other context, the idea that a 13-year-old has a constitutional right to choose against her parents' wishes an invasive surgical procedure, or even consent to one, would be absurd. Schools need parental permission to dispense over-the-counter medications. And a 13-year-old can't get her ears pierced without mom or dad being present. Similarly, an unrelated adult who took a minor out-of-state for another medical procedure would be called a "kidnapper." We'd issue an "Amber Alert," and her picture would be on CNN and Fox 24/7. Upon apprehension, the adult would face possible charges of endangering the welfare of a minor or interference with parental custody -- both of these are felonies. Yet, because the "procedure" in question is abortion, none of this applies. Abortion is not a right anymore; it's the right. It trumps everything else and, thus, embodies our deepest commitments and most treasured values. Now, most people would deny this but it only proves that they haven't been paying attention. If they had, 13-year-olds like "L. G." wouldn't feel entitled to make life and death decisions.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary