In her letter titled, “Teens abortion should require parental consent” (Sept. 7), I note that Ms. Kennedy identifies herself as a registered nurse with a baccalaureate degree in nursing.
As a retired nursing educator with 20 years’ experience teaching baccalaureate-level nursing students, I know that Ms. Kennedy’s education should have included the fact that, by law in most states within the USA and specifically in New York state, pregnant minors are referred to as emancipated minors. That gives a pregnant girl, no matter how young she may be, the right and the responsibility to consent to health care for herself and later for her child.
It means that she, and she alone, has the legal right to make decisions related to her pregnancy and her child. It also means that her parent or parents cannot force her to have an abortion or to relinquish her baby for adoption.
In a perfect world, parents do provide “that little bit of guidance” to which Ms. Kennedy refers, but this is not a perfect world. Many adolescents are fortunate enough to have parents who are supportive in the decision-making process, but far too many do not.
An effective nurse knows that his or her role is to assist a client to make decisions congruent with the client’s own beliefs and values, rather than decisions based on the nurse’s beliefs and values. That’s what good physicians, nurses, teachers and social workers do when adolescents seek outside support because they don’t or can’t trust parents to help.
Pauline Ellen Lee