There is a reality, among many others concerning abortion, that most Canadians are either unaware of or haven`t properly reflected upon. It is the lack of parental involvement or notification in the abortion of their children, a procedure that has absolutely no health value - in fact carries serious health risks.

Many provinces ignore parental consent for abortion. British Columbia`s legislation prevents parents from being notified of a daughter`s pregnancy. In Manitoba, the Children`s Aid agency has even apprehended a girl on the ground that by withholding consent to medical care (i.e. abortion) her mother was guilty of child abuse. The girl still grieves for her baby boy, aborted at 22 weeks, whom her mother tried in vain to save.

A rebellious underage teenager has a tougher time getting tattoos without parental permission, or cosmetic surgery, body piercing, booze, cigarettes, or a driver`s licence than she does an abortion. Minors cannot get a Tylenol from the school nurse or go on a class trip to the zoo if parents say no. But if you are a confused 13- 14- or 15-year- old child you can have an abortion without your parents` permission or knowledge. When we live in a society where we need to sign forms to have your kid have a Band-Aid at school, one would think that receiving this kind of surgery would qualify parents to be informed about their minor daughter`s decision.

Something that likely reflect what is going on in Canada`s largest cities is the situation in Texas where the Department of Health reported that over 5,500 abortions were performed on minors in 1997, including girls 12 years of age and younger. In none of these abortions was the doctor required to notify the parents.

Whatever one's position on abortion, everyone should recognize the crucial role of parents in their minor child's decision whether or not to undergo an abortion. It is wrong to contend that minors have a right to have abortions without telling their parents. The rights of parents to be involved in all important decisions affecting their children must be protected at all cost. Abortion's potentially serious physical and psychological effects mean parental involvement in a girl's decision to undergo the abortion is crucial and often can result in many girls deciding to carry their babies to term.

Tragically, what is too often overlooked is the fact that many minor women who become impregnated are typically the victims of the sexual abuse of much older males. Abortion without the involvement of parents only gives these sexual predators protection to continue their abuse. The belief that somehow parents and the family unit are more dangerous to a child than the government or unknown doctor or unknown nurse or unknown counsellor strikes at the very essence of the cornerstone of our society, that is the family. This belief is frankly abhorrent.

We have already had the incredible spectacle of U.S. State governors vetoing legislation which require abortion practitioners to notify the parent of an underage girl seeking an abortion. Mothers testifying about their daughters` abortions all say they wish their underage girls had come to them for help. They wish they could have had the chance to get them the help they really needed, not just a quick fix provided by the abortion.

It is truly anti-family to say the parent who has nurtured, loved and raised a child from infancy would be excluded from the biggest decision a, say, 15-year-old can make. It is in fact the height of irresponsibility to say that 15-year-olds should be in charge of their own lives.

Requiring the parents of a minor girl to be notified before her pregnancy is terminated is not about abortion rights, it's parental rights. A mother and father who assume the responsibility of the highest calling in life are obliged to know, and they are entitled to know, the life-defining decisions their children face.

Thaddee Renault

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