Parental Rights

It’s kind of ironic that, here in Texas where citizens scream that they want big government out of their lives, that the government is always welcome 1. in the bedroom; 2. in a woman’s uterus; and 3. at the gun range. So it’s not surprising that a 16-year-old girl, who cannot support herself and is remaining unnamed because she’s a minor, is suing her parents for putting pressure on her to abort her fetus. You can read more about it here.

What strikes me about this article and others I’ve read is the very sad fact that these teenagers are being used by this organization, Texas Center for Defense of Life, to promote their cause. The Center, which is affiliated with the Alliance Defending Freedom (the largest Christian legal group) contacted the young woman and offered her free counsel. A quick look at board for this nascent organization shows that its long list of supporters include Texas judges. Last year, it took on the legal battle for a 14 year old girl.

Most likely, the 16-year-old girl and her boyfriend will need support in order to keep and raise their child. A Texas judge ruled that the girl’s parents must pay half the hospital bill if she is not married to the father. (Wait a second….The parents have to pay for someone else’s baby in a state that openly rejects Obamacare?) I know, you’re probably wondering why the Texas Center for Defense of Life doesn’t have to pay since they have pitted the girl against her parents. And who will pay for the child after the understandably resentful parents have done their duty to pay for half of the hospital bill? Certainly not the girl’s parents, who are being sued. The boy’s parents? Perhaps. If they can afford to take on the support of two minors sans high school diplomas and their baby. Most likely, the housing, feeding, clothing, education and health insurance for that child will fall upon taxpayers. And in Texas, we don’t want to support welfare moms. Or, maybe we just don’t want to support welfare moms of color. I’m not sure which. But I do think it’s incredibly hypocritical.

Minors cannot enter into a contract, yet they can sue their own parents? That hardly seems right. This is not a case of abuse. This is a case of parents advising their child what they believe is best for her. Why hasn’t anyone brought in the “statutory rape” bomb which is so often employed by angry parents? Statutory rape laws state that a person under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to intercourse because they are not emotionally, physically and financially ready to make adult decisions, such as having a baby and raising a kid.  It just doesn’t make sense. If she can’t decide for herself to have sex under the age of 18, if she can’t even be responsible for her own medical bills, then should she have the sole right to determine if she can keep her fetus? But wait….it’s really not the girl or the parents who get to decide here. It’s the people with a cause and the judge who agrees with them.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is just wrong in so many ways. I’m not taking sides on whether abortion is right or wrong or when a fetus becomes a baby. I’m taking sides with the parents, who have had their rights yanked from them for no other reason than they put pressure on the girl to get an abortion so she can continue on with her adolescence. (Because, you know, the Texas Center for Defense of Life is a 100% unbiased organization.) Now the girl’s mom and dad have a parent/child role with the court as they must bend to the will of the judge. To promote an agenda, and for a few minutes of fame, the Texas Center for Defense of Life has intervened in a (not uncommon) family crisis and caused rifts that will, no doubt, change the dynamics of these families forever. That daughter, those parents–they are not just a few clumps of cells–will they ever heal their relationship?

Why do some believe that their way must be everyone’s way? Can they not see the hyprocrisy of their words and their actions? Why is it that those of us labeled “liberal” are sometimes more conservative than conservatives?

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61 responses to “Parental Rights

  1. I think it is more ironic that the same pro birthers will demand parent’s be notified of an abortion for their minor children so they can refuse to allow it. I hope this PL group wins. It will set precident to allow pregnant women the right to their bodies, not their parents or a judge.

  2. Over the weekend, we took our third-grade girl scout troop on a door-to-door cookie sales adventure. We rang one particular doorbell and the conversation went something like this:
    My daughter: “Hi! Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies? We have Thin Mints!”
    My neighbor: “Well, the Girl Scouts supports Planned Parenthood, and they give abortions that KILL little BABIES!”

    Then she had the audacity to state that it was her “duty and responsibilty” to “educate” my troop of 8-year-olds. We told her that her comments were highly inappropriate toward the age group of our troop, and we took our leave. Then we spent the next 15 minutes trying to smooth it over with some extremely confused children.

    I’m so sick of people forcing their extremist views on the world. Can’t we just… get along?

    • @Shanan Winters That’s pretty sad that adults would do that to your girls and their friends. The Girl Scouts is a good organization. Like you mentioned–people should keep their extremist views to themselves.

  3. This case highlight the cognitive disconnect of many on the “pro-life” side of the abortion debate; they will do anything to make sure a pregnancy goes to full-term, but once the baby pops out, the baby is on its own. Where are the pro-lifers that are adopting all the unwanted kids in the foster system? Where are the pro-lifers supporting prenatal healthcare for the poor?

    The same policy makers that advocate anti-abortion laws are the same ones that push for cuts in programs that will benefit the unborn and the born. Does not sound very pro-life to me.

  4. I can see both sides here. I don’t feel as though the girl should be forced into an abortion, but the parents shouldn’t be forced into paying for the baby either. Which leaves the tax payers, which again, shouldn’t be responsible for this baby. I don’t think it inappropriate to suggest to the child to get an abortion, but it is her right not to get one as well. Whose rights are more important would be the real question.

  5. Well said. It is important to note that many of these people also strongly oppose sex ed, which prevents unwanted pregnancy. It’s absurd.

    @ Shanan: the minute that woman said that it was her responsibility to educate children, I would have corrected her. She needs to know that the Girl Scouts work with PP on sex education so that girls don’t have to face dealing with an unwanted pregnancy to begin with. I’m increasingly frustrated with people that spew misinformation without researching it on their own first to ensure that what they say is factually correct. UGH!

  6. Organizations like Texas Center for Defense of Life make me sick. It’s one thing to be pro-life for yourself. It’s quite another to use a minor girl as a political football to advance your pro-life agenda. It would be different if the girl had approached them, asking for their help and protection. But they approached her — a minor! Attorneys who do that are called ambulance chasers. If they truly pro-life and concerned about both the girl and her baby, they should be offering their services for free, offering to find adoptive parents for her baby if she decides to give it up, offering to pay for her pre- and post-natal care, and offering to pay to help raise the child.

    As George Carlin once put it, when describing pro-lifers: “If you’re pre-born, you’re fine; if you’re pre-school, you’re f****d.”

  7. The news accounts I read, the girl contacted the Texas Center for Defense of Life, not the other way around.

    • @Lott Holtz I actually read that, too, on another, smaller news site, but I think CNN rigorously checks their sources, and I trust what they said here (a direct quote from the article I linked in the post): “The lawyers were first contacted by the boy’s mother, who said that the girl’s parents were threatening both teens, according to Casey, who said the center then contacted the girl and offered their services gratis.”

  8. I’m glad to hear that the boys parents called the lawyers if there is pressure being applied to a girl (by ANYone) who does not want an abortion. I honestly don’t understand parents who wouldn’t be happy to help their young daughter either find an adoption situation, or help her raise their grandchild. That’s just strange to me. I don’t understand fanatics on either side. I also don’t have a problem with the taxes I pay going to support someone in a case like this. I would throw in making sure she has a good education, and child care while getting it as well.
    Hopefully the boys parents are willing to help.

    • @onebigagnostic If parents can’t pressure their kids into making choices that they, as parents, believe is right for the child or the family, then what is the point of parenting? To saddle a child with a baby is difficult–to adopt the baby out is equally as hard because the child lives with not knowing how the baby was being treated, raised, etc. I’m sure it is equally hard to abort a fetus, but it seems, at least, that there is finality and the kid can move on with her life–get her high school diploma and college degree. She won’t go through the trama of childbirth only to struggle to feed herself and another mouth. If that baby is born, the odds are not in his/her favor.

      There are organizations you can send money to in support of teen mothers. I’d rather spend money on the people who are already here who need help–the uninsured, the homeless. If we subsidize every teenager’s bad choice, then we will have our hands full….

  9. I wanted to share with you an article from WFAA here in DFW about domestic violence and the role that churches have played in not helping victims.

    *http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/dallas/Til-Death-Do-We-Part-191719891.html* * * *One of the reasons I tell my daughter that we do not go to church like most of her friends is because religion enables men to marginalize women. This just proves my point. * * * *Sarah Mitchell *

    • @Sarah Mitchell Wow. That is a sad article. It’s weird to me that people would think “God” wants them to stay in an abusive relationship.

      This was not the case in Charlotte, NC (at least, when I worked there). I spent a semester working as an intern for an Assitant District Attorney. I have to say that women who pressed domestic abuse charges against their abuser oftentimes showed up WITH their abuser–and they tried to drop the charges. I was impressed that the DA would not allow that. She would have me interview each party separately, and then, she took them in front of the judge. She believed the case needed to go to court and stay on the person’s record–and she’d knew they’d be back. She said the abused were codependent and needed emotional help. One time, I was down in the cafeteria, and a couple who had been in the courtroom were there holding hands and kissing. The judge had put a restraining order on the guy. Anyway, I’m sure there are a lot of factors in play. Thank you for sharing the WFAA story.

  10. For me, it’s worth the sacrifice. I don’t think we’ll suddenly have a run on pregnant teenagers because we subsidze a few who need it. Teenage pregnancy rates have been on the decline. So have aborions.
    I find myself the odd man out on this subject every time. Somehow it just seems so strange to me that it’s less traumatizing to a woman to kill her baby than it is to adopt it out. I’m not trying to sound disrespectful of your opinion. I just don’t get it. This is the one and only issue that keeps me thinking I must still be Republican. And I’d rather not be.

    • @onebigagnostic I didn’t think you were disrespectful. We don’t agree and that’s ok. I don’t think of it as a baby during those first few months. Of course, if I had an unwanted pregnancy, I don’t think I could choose abortion. Thankfully, I didn’t have to make that choice. I don’t know what I’d do if my child came home pregnant–with no way to support herself or the baby, without even having lived her own life. I had a roommate in college who had an abortion, and I remember it did bother her, but wouldn’t it have been just as hard, if not harder, if she had kept the baby or given it up? Had she kept the baby, she sure would not have been my roommate at college. She would have been taking care of her kid.

      But I didn’t write about this to dispute abortion–I think it’s a personal choice best left to the mother, with input from the father. The issue that bothers me was that the parents had the right to counsel their child, to push their beliefs on her. Isn’t that what we do with religion? The Defense of Life group IS pushing their agenda, too, but they don’t have the best interest of the girl in mind. She is just press for them, another notch in their belt. And they won’t be paying for and bringing up the girl AND the girl’s baby. It’s not just the money either–raising a child takes a huge emotional toll, too.

  11. Hey dam, great post as usual… I love the dialog your posts produce. I guess I’m one of those “conservative liberals”??? Whatever… While I’m a “non beliver” I personally do not necessarily agree with abortion, at least not for myself or my 2 boys who are now young men. I have a life-long friend, we’ve been closer than sisters since we were 13 (we’re now 49 & 50). “Kathy” my friend, had an abortion when she was 17, her parents didn’t give her a choice. She is white, got pregnant by her first real boyfriend, who happened to be black. At the time, they were living in Germany. Her mother took her to a German doctor for the abortion. “Kathy” was extremely traumatized by the experience, she still talks to this day about it, how “every color in the world” was coming out of her body in the vacuum tube laying next to her head. She was so unprepared for what turned into a very traumatic experience. She will still mention the baby she “should have had,” especially around the time of the year it would have been born, she’ll talk about how old it would have been now.

    Back in the 1970s her white parents were very much like a lot of southern Americans then: They didnt want a mixed-race grandchild or the stigmas our society had towards bi-racial children. How sad. It appeared to “Kathy” and me at the time, that the only reason her parents insisted on an abortion was because the baby wasn’t “all white.”

    When my boys were teenagers, and some of their friends got girls pregnant. I would tell them, “If that ever happens to you, PLEASE come to me, something can always be worked out.” An unwanted pregnancy isn’t the end of the world, just like anything else. I was the “condom mom” I literally bought condoms in bulk at Costco, my kids and their friends always knew where they were. I told my boys to never believe a girl when she said she was on birth control.

    I live in the State of Alabama, an extremist conservative “God-fearing” state where kids/children who are only 14 can legally determine their only medical choices without their parents’ consent – even though they are able to use their parents’ health insurance benefits. Whatever is leftover to pay, the parents are totally responsible for paying. WRONG WRONG WRONG!!! I witnessed this law in action first hand when my oldest son broke both arms at P.E. in school when he was 14. When I took him to the ER he was forced to sign an “X” for his own medical care with his broken arm being held by an ER nurse. How crazy is that??

    • @Shelley That is crazy….and hospital are supposed to be places that help first and foremost.

      I mentioned that I had a roommate who had had an abortion (her boyfriend was older and took her). I don’t know if her parents knew. She came from a very dysfunctional family anyway and the parents had a lot of their own problems. I remember she seemed sad, too, about the experience. I always thought that I would not choose abortion if faced with that dilemma, but I guess I don’t know for certain since I never had to face that. It would be tough to decide–and I wouldn’t want to make that choice for someone else. It’s so important.

      Great idea about the condoms and making them available. This way, the kids don’t feel embarrassed to ask…

  12. I find this topic a logically fascinating situation. People on the “Pro Choice” side say that people on the “Pro Life” side are misogynists who want to interfere in a woman’s reproductive choices. People on the “Pro Life” side say that people on the “Pro Choice” side are baby killers. Lots of “charity” running around on both sides there, huh?

    Most of this hatred comes from the fact that people on each side are arguing from different initial premises. What do I mean? Pro Life people believe that a fertilized egg and sperm is an individual human being, who should have rights. While Pro Choice people believe that it’s not actually a human being until some stage in the development of the child.

    The first position is an objective view on reality because it is the same in all cases and the second position is a subjective view on reality because it allows for the person to decide when an zygote, embryo, fetus etc… is really a human being devoid of scientific reality.

    If we actually took scientific fact and argued from same initial premises then maybe some of the vitriolic rhetoric spewed by both side would go down and we could have an honest discussion. Unfortunately until people start arguing from a position of objective scientific fact we will never come to an agreement on this.

    As to the rights of parents, I find it extraordinarily hypocritical on the part of both the Prolife and Prochoice agenda that in some cases the parents should have rights and in other cases the parents should not have rights depending on whose agenda it fits. Once again we see that if we stick to objective reality and stop trying to make reality fit our desires, accepting it for what it is, these discussions will go to a higher level. Instead we all want to make things feel good even if there is no truthful basis behind it.

    This is just one more example of why truth should reign and we should stop trying to make truth what we want it to be instead of what it really is.

    • @Joe K Whoa…Seems you feel pretty passionate about this topic. I was following you until you said, “objective view on reality.” I don’t think that’s something anyone has. Parents teach their children religion, and that it is OK. They teach them manners. They teach them values. They teach them to plan for the future. So why would we, meaning the law, get involved in the parent/child relationship, where the parents are just trying to advise their child to do what THEY believe is best for their child (not you or me). Their relationships will be ruined forever. That is their “objective reality.” That family should be the ones deciding, not a judge. I find this hypocritical in a state that says they don’t want government in their personal business…The law does not belong there. The parents have not abused their child, neglected her nor broken any laws. Were this scenario in a northern state, I doubt it would have made it before a judge. If the parents had forced their child to keep the baby, it would not have even made news in TX.

      PS You really hate me for taking a different stand from you?? :)

  13. I hate it when men are often the most passionate about their property…sorry women. The Prolifers cling on to the unscientific idea of conception like a drowning man to a straw. After the ejaculation there can (and often is) some time before a sperm reaches an egg and then even several days before the egg attaches to the wall of uterus making it even possible to start growing. And to top that – the fact that quite many zygotes abort themselves (thus making a God the biggest abortionist of ‘em all) is apparently irrelevant.

    There are hardly any winners in these debates – only bigger or smaller losers. Prolifers (in their extreme form) are despicable people who murder doctors – even the moderate Prolifers “somewhat understand” the reasoning behind the extremists.

    • @saab93f I agree with your comments. It’s pretty much just an organism that cannot live on its own without a host. However, it’s just such a personal struggle either way for the mother and really should be left to her…

  14. @dam…Oh I completely and totally hate and despise everyone that disagrees with me. After all, whatever I say is true and everyone should agree with me all the time. Just ask my wife. (don’t really ask her cause she’ll probably die from laughing at me for saying that and I’d miss her)

    As to the parental rights thing, I’m not disagreeing with you here. I was just stating that I find it hypocritical when
    1. Pro Life groups say parents should be able to prevent their children from having an abortion and simultaneously say that children should be able to decide they don’t want one when their parents want them to have one.
    AND, AND, AND
    2. Pro Choice groups say parents should be allowed to make their kids have an abortion because the kid doesn’t know the struggle of raising a child alone and simultaneously say that parents don’t need to know when their kids want to have an abortion.

    And you’re right I’m very passionate about this topic because, I can’t seem to fathom how the two sides do not recognize they are yelling at each other while standing on two entirely different foundational truths. Until they evaluate their entering premises and have a rational discussion from a common premise then they will continue to yell with no progress toward the ultimate goal which should be obtaining a correct arrival at objective truth.

    The point here is that the Pro Life people are reasoning from a premise, which is objective in its nature (though not necessarily correct), and that premise is that life begins at conception. Where as the Pro Choice people are reasoning from a premise, which is relative in its nature, and that premise is that life begins at whatever point the person making the decision decides life begins. While, I’m not making a claim as to the validity of the “life begins at conception” premise (that is a completely different discussion), I do find that if we are going to evaluate a situation we should evaluate it based on an initial premise that is solid and not changeable. When we evaluate the situation on a premise that is changeable then we falsely manipulate our conclusions to be what we want them to be. If in the future we find out our entering premise was false, not based on a disappointing conclusion but some concrete evidence, then we should re-evaluate our conclusion based on the new premise. The problem I see here is people on the Pro Choice side are changing their premise to meet the conclusion they want to get. Seems like a backward type of reasoning to me. This is similar in its logical invalidity to the religious types who say we should believe in God because if we don’t then there would be no foundation upon which to build morals. NO, we should believe in a God or not believe in a god because we have come to a rational conclusion that One exists or one does not exist based on the evidence available. We shouldn’t make the determination that God exists or god doesn’t exist based on whether we like the outcome of our conclusion.

    I still think you do not understand me when I talk about objective truth and an objective view of reality. Rather than restate I’ll ask you a question I asked back in the “Boy Scouts” post in which you never answered, I’m not saying it was because you avoided it but because we can only linger on one thread for so long. I’ll ask it again here…

    “Regarding the statement, “God might exist, god might not exist or god might exist in another form or way that no one ever thought of.” Are you agreeing that one and only one of those three options can be correct, even if we may never know? Or are you saying that multiples ones can be simultaneously correct? Just asking so I understand where you are coming from, not trying to sway at all.”

    • @Joe K You don’t fool me. You’re not as objective as you think…. This is not objective: “The point here is that the Pro Life people are reasoning from a premise, which is objective in its nature (though not necessarily correct), and that premise is that life begins at conception.”

      As for not answering your questions, which I know you’ve asked before, I sometimes don’t address a topic where I know I stand too far apart with a person to find any middle ground. We can talk about facts: there is oxygen in the air. That is provable, and we can both agree on this. If we talk about an opinion: I believe god put oxygen in the air–that is not provable, so you’ll have your reality of why there is oxygen and I’ll have mine. Just as you have your reality of when life begins and you assume it to be true for everyone else. As to your question, “God might exist, god might not exist or god might exist in another form or way that no one ever thought of.” Of course more than one of your options (which are opinions) could be true. God might exist, but he might exist in another form that we’ve never thought of.

  15. @saab93f…Regarding your statement…”The Prolifers cling on to the unscientific idea of conception like a drowning man to a straw.”

    You are factually incorrect in your understanding of embryology.

    Specifically…
    1. Fertilization is “…the procession of events that begins when a spermatozoon makes contact with a secondary oocyte or its investments, and ends with the intermingling of maternal and paternal chromosomes at metaphase of the first mitotic division of the zygote. The zygote is characteristic of the last phase of fertilization and is identified by the first cleavage spindle. It is a unicellular embryo.”

    and

    2. That a Zygot is a “…cell [that] results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo). The expression fertilized ovum refers to a secondary oocyte that is impregnated by a sperm; when fertilization is complete, the oocyte becomes a zygote.”

    As stated in text #1 the final stage of fertilization is a Zygote and in text #2 it is stated that the Zygote is a new human being.

    So you see that it is an objective fact defined by the science of embryology that a new human being begins at conception.

    With that statement of objective truth as Embryological Science (not Pro Choice lobbyists and Planned Parenthood) understands it the discussion should really be, is what human beings should be covered under the rights of the consitution.

    References for above:
    1. Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology & Teratology (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1994). http://www.amazon.com/Human-Embryology-Teratology-3rd-Edition/dp/0471382256

    2. Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1998). http://www.amazon.com/The-Developing-Human-Clinically-Embryology/dp/0721669743

    • @Joe K. Agh. I typed up my response on my app and lost it. Anyway. I basically said that I don’t think saab93f is arguing terminology with you. I think he is disputing where life begins. Fertility specialists get rid of a lot of zygotes and they probably do not agree they are aborting. If you take a fertilized egg from its host mother, you would not even be able to see it with the naked eye. You’d need a microscope. No amount of life support equipment could keep the egg “alive.” To me, it is not a human until its systems are developed enough to survive without its host. I understand where life begins for you–but your version or mine–should not be forced on any mother.

  16. I’m really new to this whole debate and I had to come back and see what the comments were on it again. I swear I can’t wrap my mind around where I stand on this. Not that someone else’s life would be mine to judge and stand on. But, I am fascinated.

    I agree that the parents have the right to teach their child their beliefs. I also agree that the child has the right, as a pregnant girl now, to do with her body as she wishes. I agree that tax payers should not have to pay for a baby that can’t be cared for by a teenager without the means to do it.

    I’m totally at a loss as to who is logically in the right here, as I can see all sides and they all contradict each other!

    • @Rachael There’s no doubt that the judge and attorneys don’t love that girl as much as the parents do….now their relationship is strained, at best.

  17. @dam: The boy’s parents’ calling the center is essentially the same thing to me. The Center wasn’t chasing ambulances here. I think that as a society we should honor the ferility choices of all women. She has a right to keep her baby; her parents have a right to abandon their child in her time of need, but that’s some pretty poor parenting. Forcing someone to have an abortion is an abhorant totalitarian practice. If, for example, the boy/father was pressuring/cajoling/verbally abusing the girl/mother into having an abortion everyone would be (rightfully) disgusted and angry and be on the girl/mother. Just because the parents are doing it doesn’t make it right or more defensible. I have two daughters. If they ever find themselves in this poor girl’s situation later in life I want them to own thier decision and make one that’s best for them, not best for me, or the Christians, or the courts. Them. They own their own bodies. Or has feminism misled me on this?

  18. RE: when life begins
    My understanding is that many American Indians believe life begins when the baby takes his or her first breath. In rural Japan, life begins at baby’s first cry. There are other cultures where life begins days or a couple of years after birth.
    How’s that for muddying the waters?
    VH

  19. @dam…as to your response to the objectivity question, I’m not trying to fool anyone. O believe that in any argument there are 3 possibilities and one and ONLY one of them must be true. 1. you are wrong, 2 I am wrong, or 3. we are both wrong and there is a answer neither of us have found.

    On the other topic, I posted my response to Saab because you stated above you didn’t want to get into that discussion but since you have opened that door I am assuming that is a desire on your part to engage in the discussion so I will proceed.

    I agree, fertility specialists (i.e IVF practitioners) do not abort, as abortion presupposes pregnancy. That lack of abortion does not however change the scientific fact of embryology that they do create human beings and then allow some of them to die by keeping them outside their naturally sustaining environment. Your logic there is valid.

    Your reasoning that strikes me as invalid (remember I said I may dislike you logic but we’re all in this existence together so there is no hate or even dislike here) comes when you say, “To me, it is not a human until its systems are developed enough to survive without its host.” Embryological Science has clearly observed, as pointed out above, that it is a human being. I’m not forcing anything on anyone, reality is doing that. It is objective scientific fact that a human being is created when a sperm fertilizes an egg. I am just following scientific evidence where it leads. And the evidence leads it to state that life begins at conception.

    The following question may appear hostile, because you and I disagree, but I assure you it is not. It’s merely challenging the independence of your logical thinking. So here it is… If embryological scientists have observed and published in mainstream embryological textbooks (cited above) used in credible universities that a zygote is a human being and you are saying that, “To me, it is not a human until its systems are developed enough to survive without its host.” Are you denying the findings of embryological science?

    If you are, then you should recognize the potential that cognitive dissonance may be effecting your ability to think logically on this front.

    • @Joe K Oh brother….You and I are not engaging in anything new. Lots of people have been arguing this for a long time. If there were an answer, a “reality,” an “objective truth” to the question of when life begins, then there would be laws protecting that life. Oh, wait. There are. A law, which was made by society (meaning, all of us), has set that time for a certain # of weeks in the pregnancy. I don’t remember what it is. So, the law (we), have decided that the organism in a mother’s belly is not a “human life” until X number of weeks. I’m not here to argue all this. And it is not my choice to make anyway–it is the choice of the individual who has to carry and raise the baby.

      The post merely said that Texas, the state in which I live, doesn’t believe in getting involved in people’s lives, yet they are smack in the middle of this girl’s family, and they are ruining the girl’s relationship with her parents. I don’t wish to argue about a woman’s right to abort or argue when life begins, etc. That’s been done over and over and over again.

  20. @dam, you are right, normal parents are sure to love their kids more than a judge or an attorney. The issue is, there are parents out there that don’t give a S**T about their kids and they are really just using this as a control tactic. How do we know this isn’t the case? I mean really, I would like to assume these parents are just trying to do what’s right for their kid, but we can’t know that for sure.

    There are public service people, attorneys and judges as well, that do have the care and well-being of a child at heart (perhaps not this particular judge and attorney set) but that’s why there are family courts. I do think it highly inappropriate to threaten to “slip her an abortion pill”. That is a form of abuse to a child and it infringes on that girl’s right to her own body.

    Then I have to wonder how well these parents were at teaching their child right from wrong to begin with. Were they monitoring her sexual activity? Were they taking precautions to prevent an unwanted pregnancy? Or, were they, like my own mother, negligent when it came to these things? Who knows.

    If they were negligent, why shouldn’t they have to pay for their minor daughter’s mistakes? Why shouldn’t they be held accountable as well? It would save the tax payer dollars, for sure.

    The real problem here, we don’t know what goes on in that house. We don’t know the real story, because we are getting he said, she said information. The truth is, there are parents out there that don’t know how to be parents. There are children out there that rebel despite good parents. Was their relationship already strained before the pregnancy? Do we know that?

    This really brings more questions than answers and at the end of the day, we don’t really know and probably never will.

    I have to wonder, if it hadn’t been a predominately Christian group that defended this girl, would we still be up debating it?

    • @Rachel Yes, I agree with many of your statements. There are many assumptions being made. I’m not sure this would be any issue in the northern states. If this had been a pro-Choice group representing her, and her parents wanted her to keep the baby, do you think the girl would have made it court? Or do you think TX would have forced the girl to bend to her parents wishes to keep the baby?

      Yes, people say all sorts of sh*t when they are angry. But any court will tell you that what the parents said–if indeed they said it–does not constitute abuse. I’d think if they haven’t not been dragged into court before now for child abuse, it’s probably not an issue.

      You said: “If they were negligent, why shouldn’t they have to pay for their minor daughter’s mistakes? Why shouldn’t they be held accountable as well? It would save the tax payer dollars, for sure.”

      If you believe that the parents are accountable or responsible for the child’s negligence, isn’t it then their choice to keep or abort the baby?

  21. @dam: Exactly so. Conception cannot be determined in a way that it happens definitely at the moment of ejaculation or 2 minutes after. Thus there is not an absolute point of when life possibly leading to a baby has begun.
    I have never heard of leisurely abortions – they are apparently very demanding decisions and should be left at the people directly concerned.
    When a xian group comes hammering a person in a fragile state then humanity is as far as can be.

  22. @saab93f…Sorry I did not realize you were merely saying that you couldn’t determine when conception actually occurred, and as a result a human being comes into being, based on the time of physical interaction between a man and a women. I thought you were implying the unscientific notion that a human being comes into existence upon implantation, a common canard among the Pro Choice set.

  23. @dam, Oh, you got me on that one! I hadn’t thought about it that way. You’re right, if the parents should be held accountable, they should be able to make the choice.

    That still brings me to the right of a woman to choose for herself. I know this kid isn’t a ‘woman’ in the eyes of society, but once she became pregnant, in some states(not sure about Texas), that makes her an emancipated minor, which is sort of similar to an adult woman.

    I just can’t bring myself to the thought that these parents have the right to decide what happens to this girl’s child. To force an abortion on the girl. I would find forced abortion or coerced abortion distasteful no matter the circumstances, I think. I really feel like in order to be pro-choice, you have to allow the woman the right to choose and not force it on her.

    And the real problem here in my logic is that I am pro-life for me, not for any other reason but because I know emotionally I couldn’t get an abortion. I am pro-choice for everyone else. Pro-choice goes both ways. This girl has the right to chose whether or not she wants an abortion.

    AND, you pointed out an excellent point. If it had been a pro-choice group advocating for the right to abort, I doubt this kid would have stood a chance in court. That’s what makes this whole situation convoluted for me.

    All the religious aspects involved, which shouldn’t be there, have turned this into a circus act.

    I am really glad I came across your post on this, because it gets my mind thinking in ways I don’t normally think and about things I don’t normally think about. I have made the decision to test my boundaries about what I believe and the reasons, this is just another example of that.

    • @Rachael I do enjoy discussions like this because it is a good intellectual exercise and it helps people define where they stand on issues.

      Many girls were brought up in an era where abortions were not options–either because they were illegal (and some got them anyway) or because they were brought up Catholic (or some other religion) and they were forced to keep their babies…So, there has been coercion throughout history in one way or another.

      For all the reasons you mentioned, you gotta feel for this family and that kid. Confused, unwed, pregnant, alienated from her family, no education, the center of turmoil…if she does have a baby, it won’t have much of a chance for a normal childhood.

  24. @dam…Laws do not govern scientific truth, they govern our interactions. We can pretend to act as if something false is true and we can interact with each other as if something false is true, but it will never change the actual scientific fact of the matter. Thinking that we can legislate what is actually scientific fact is the opposite of being an independent logical thinker. It is following the masses much like the religious types you disagree with.

    • @JoeK I did not say “laws govern scientific truths.” We, as a society, have decided where life begins. It may change in the future–it has been different in the past. As I said more than once, I’m not here to argue when life begins. (You did here that part, right?) It is not for me to decide for another mother.

      I read a huge number of scientific and medical articles, journals and magazines per month, and I can tell you there are far fewer “actual scientific facts” than we realize. “Facts” do sometimes change. That’s why we now know the earth is round.

  25. Hey Deborah, How are you? I have to say, I am between pro-life and pro-choice, leaning more towards pro-life. I didn’t understand why you were upset about this situation until I read the L A Times article about this girl. I see that the boyfriend’s mother had reached the legal team, not either one of the kids. The aritcle that I read stated that the girl’s parents agreed to let her keep her car and phone, and will pay half of her hosptial costs. The mother of the girl also said that she would give consent for the two teenagers to marry at 16 years old.
    It seems to me, just to me now, that this little girl is a bit of a brat. Yes, her parents are divorced and sound a little miserable, blah, blah, blah, but I think she’s use to getting her way. I still don’t agree with anyone forcing their child to get an abortion. I had a very, very good friend who pushed for her 13 year old daughter to do so because her family was Hispanic, and the girl’s boyfriend was not. It was simply a means of racial purification, and my friend had very strong views on that! However, I’ll pull it back in, if this little boy and little girl really want to play grown ups, then THEY should pay for their own cars, and phones. Either that, or the mom of the boyfriend who contacted this group should pay all or at least half of all expenses.
    I have a great deal of experience with situations like this and I can tell you that if that little girl had an abortion now she would be pregnant again within months.
    My husband made a good point, he feels that the parents should have emancipated her.
    Again, I don’t support forced abortions, but I also don’t support kids who want to be grown ups without the responsibility.

    • Hi CHope! Was wondering what happened to you and if you were doing OK.

      I agree that no one should be forced to have an abortion, but I just feel like the parents had a right to try to persuade her only because they are doing what they feel is best for their daughter. I guess, if I were trying to force my kid to (fill in the blank) say, exercise, I feel that I have a right, as a parent, to express my opinion about what I think is best for my child. Of course, having a baby is a much bigger deal, but you get the idea. I agree with you that, should the girl decide to have the baby, she (and/or her boyfriend and their parents) should pay. Same for the car. My kids are not entitled to a car, phone, entertainment, etc. Emancipating her makes sense. If she wants to take on the responsibilities of an adult, she should have all the privileges–and expenses…

  26. @dam…I posted my initial response on the topic to Saab because you stated initially you didn’t want to get into this discussion, but then you opened that door. I thought you wanted it opened, I apologize and will respect your desire that the door be closed for now. I understand it is a delicate topic that carries a great deal of emotion.

    As to your last statement, ” ‘Facts’ do sometimes change. That’s why we now know the earth is round.” Even before humans had the cognitive understanding that the earth was not flat, the earth was still in Fact flat. Our incorrect notions of truth, whether out of convenience or lack of knowledge, does not change the objective truth buttressing this reality.

    On a completely different aspect of a similar note you might be interested in this….

    http://www.veritas-ucsb.org/library/russell/FlatEarth.html

    • @Joe K No worries. I just didn’t want to rehash the abortion debate because there is no right answer and it’s been argued so much for so long.

      There are many facts that sometimes change. You can count the number of stars in the sky in the 1800s vs now and see that the number will change. Our planet and our universe is in a constant state of flux. I’ve told you before–I do understand what you are saying about “objective truth.” However, I cringe at the words because I don’t think you or I or any other human is ever in a place to know that. (The earth is round/flat is a good example.) I understand you want to “prove” there’s a god by saying, whether we know him or not, he’s out there!! It’s the proverbial if a tree falls in the woods conundrum. But there is not going to be a “gotcha” moment. I respect your right to believe, though, and would not try to talk you out of something that brings you comfort or helps you understand the world and your place in it…

  27. @dam..,You still are not getting my point. My point has absolutely nothing at all to do with whether God exists or does not exist. I’ll try this a different way and then I think we should put it asside for now because we’ve reached the point of diminishing returns.

    I’ll use your example of stars. Additionally, for the sake of simplicity lets set asside the fact that stars are constantly being destroyed and created throughout the universe.

    If you took a theoretical snapshot of any moment in time and counted the number of stars using 1800s technology, you would determine there were X number of stars. If you counted the same snapshot in time and counted the number of stars using 2013 technology you would come up with Y number of stars. If you took the same snapshot in time and counted the number of stars using 2213 technology (assuming we don’t all kill ourselves into exitinction or get sucked up in the rapture :) before then) you would come up with Z number of stars. Each of those numbers is wrong because there is an actual number of stars in the universe at that snapshot in time, we just do not know it due to our limited technology and abilities. That unknown number is THE objectively true number of stars and is completely independant of our observations.

    I see this as more than just a proverbial “tree in the woods” scenario. I say this because we should evaluate all things starting from our best understanding of objective truth and then follow logic and reason to their conclusion. If we start with what we know to be the best understanding of objective truth and use valid logic then our conclusions will be the BEST conclusions we can possibly come to. When technology or human reasoning “betters” our understanding of those objectivly true starting points then we should re-evaluate our logical conclusions so that they are now better than our previous conclusions. If we start with something that is not our best understanding of objective truth and work out logically from there, our conclusions will not be the best conclusions we could attain because they didn’t start from the best starting point.

    Does that help you understand what I am saying by “objective truth” and why I see it is so important?

    • @Joe K OMG. I am going to stab my eyes with pins. I get–and have gotten–EXACTLY what you are saying. People have been arguing about this very same philosophical point for centuries–longer, really, since Plato and Socrates. Try to see it from the other side as well. Any time you used phrases like this: “the best understanding of objective truth” you are acknowledging, consciously or not, that we have no way of knowing the “objective truth,” if indeed that is even possible. I don’t believe there is an objective truth because we are all constructing our own realities, and we may or may not share those with others–because we are limited by the very language we use, by our senses and by our limited knowledge of the world. Everything is always changing–as you stated–when we add new information our opinions, and our “facts,” change. To use your snapshot example–we think our technology is adequate, and it may very well be but it may also not be. We are limited by many things, including our perception, knowledge base, tools, senses, etc. Do those stars exist separate from our recognition of them? Of course! But I do not believe we can know this “objective truth” you speak of. Besides, isn’t “objective truth” an odd and redundent phrase? What is the difference between truth and objective truth?

  28. Hi dam – At the risk of furthering the number of pins in your eyes, do you realize that saying “I don’t believe there is an objective truth…” is in fact a self-refuting statement? You’re making an objective claim and at the same time saying there are not objective claims.

    • @Brandon Definition of objective: “Not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.”

      My statement “I don’t believe there is an objective truth.” There’s nothing objective about what I said. “I believe” is a tipoff that I’m expressing my limited and humble opinion.

  29. Perhaps this is a better way of illustrating the self-refuting nature of the statement.

    dam – “I don’t believe there is an objective truth.”
    Brandon – “Is that statement objectively true?”

    You clearly believe in at least one objective truth – that there is no objective truth. See the problem? Whether or not “believe” is used in the statement is really inconsequential. As an individual making that statement, it is understood you are stating what you believe, whether or not “believe” is used . Including “believe” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is just an opinion that isn’t making any kind of specific, objective claim about reality.

    • @Brandon Let’s just cut to the chase. This conversation has gotten silly and pointless. What started the whole conversation with Joe K is the idea that, regardless of whether or not man knows, there is an “objective truth” about God. I’m not trying to talk you out of your belief. Let’s respect each other’s views. And let’s drop this thread. Thank you.

  30. I have to admit, I love this discussion on objective truth. I believe (again it is a belief, not knowledge) that there is an objective truth. I also believe that none of us humans know much at all about that truth.

    As to the original article, there are several comments I would like to make. First, I believe based on the fact that the original request was from the boys mother claiming that the parents were threatening BOTH children. In that case, if I were that boy’s parents, I would also seek legal help. Threatening to slip someone an abortion pill, or threatening to give a 16 year old an “ass whoopin” would in my opinion be a reason to file a CPS report and to seek legal help. On the other hand, I believe it is perfectly acceptable for the parents to take away their daughter’s cell phone or car as part of their parenting. Given the lack of knowledge, I believe that it was appropriate for the court to at least intervene. Given the extreme lack of information in this article, however, I am not willing to judge any of the groups.

    As for the comment I read that said “Where are all the pro-lifers that are adopting all of the unwanted kids in our foster system?”, do not underestimate what some people are doing? My wife and I have been trying to adopt for 2 1/2 years now, and yet it is very difficult and very expensive. We do foster parenting, and have watched children returned to parents that have no business parenting and been unable to adopt through some agencies because we have foster children. I would not go around blaming children not being adopted because of not enough parents, but because of all of the rules, regulations and stupidity involved in the system.

  31. I’m fine with dropping this particular line of discussion regarding objective truth, but I would like to point out that disagreement, or attempts to persuade, does not imply a lack of respect for the other’s views. What is the point of this blog and these discussions if not to present one’s viewpoint, which many times also includes attempt to persuade or to point out where you think the other person is incorrect?

    I would also like to clarify that JoeK did not start this entire conversation off arguing over the objective truth about God, but he was pointing out the differences in the premises that Pro-Lifers and Pro-Choices use when advocating for their positions. Essentially that Pro-Choicers use subjective criteria to decide when the fetus becomes human and that Pro-Lifers use objective, biological facts and logic in arguing that the fetus is human and has human rights throughout the entire process, as how can the result of the reproductive act between male and female humans be anything other than human throughout the entire development process.

  32. Dam, I have THOROUGHLY enjoyed this conversation. You’ve brought together quite a gathering of pragmatists! :) Pretty rare these days, it seems to me.

  33. @dam…to answer only the questions you posed, “Besides, [1] isn’t ‘objective truth’ an odd and redundent phrase? [2]What is the difference between truth and objective truth?”

    1. Objective, a term of distinction, is important because there are a great number of people who believe that truth is subjective. Therefore, objective truth is not a redundant phrase.

    2. The concept of “objective truth” and the concept of “subjective truth” fit under the general umbrella of truth. So the difference between “truth” and “objective truth” is the level of precision.

    Oh, and I never used the a god exists, a god doesn’t exist, a god might not exist in the way we think to “prove” a god exists. I was using that as an example of how there has to be one solution to those options not multiple. Which I failed at when you pointed out 1 and 3 could simultaneuosly exist. So I failed in my example.

  34. All I can think is that it sucks. I’m not sure if, at 16, she realizes the implications of losing your familial relationships by using the court and a political organization to get your view across. If she’d just decided to stand firm and refuse to abort her baby, her family might’ve rejected her for a while; however, those rejections often heal over time, because many families want to share grandbabies and birthdays together. Instead, she’s taken a crow bar and pried out her parents’ option to adjust to her decision; I’m afraid that’s a breaking that can’t be healed. I haven’t talked to my own father for a year over personal life decisions he doesn’t approve of, but at least my bond can eventually be healed by time and space apart.

    • @Larissa Lee–Yes, I agree with you! And that was the only point I was trying to make. Not who was right, but what the outcome will be for those family bonds.

  35. All things aside pertaining to this issue, the greater truth is, we readily accept life isn’t fair, deriding those who complain about this very unfairness when it appears they have yet to accept this state of things. Yet, we continue bringing others into it all the while knowing they don’t get a choice in the matter. If the child this 16 year old is carrying, could get a glimpse of where they’re possibly headed, regardless of the degree of love they’ll receive, if lucky, I don’t believe it’s a stretch, they would quickly pass on coming into this. Yet, the choice isn’t theirs. Which is more irresponsible, this teenager not taking suitable precautions to prevent the pregnancy or her bringing this child into something that’s clearly ill, simply due to her being conditioned to do so? Everyone cherishes the very thing we’re all initially denied… choice.

  36. Shanan, “Then she had the audacity to state that it was her “duty and responsibilty” to “educate” my troop of 8-year-olds.” This is what they do. This is why they have youth groups and Sunday school, to “educate” (brainwash) children while they are too young to know any better. I would have asked the girls to step out of earshot and let that woman have it. There is no excuse for what she did. None.

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