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Oklahoma Passes Harsh Parental Consent Bill, While Louisiana Teens Can Turn Parents in for Abuse

Robin Marty

Oklahoma's governor has signed into law a bill that will make getting an abortion much more difficult for teens, while in Louisiana a new bill would make it possible to charge parents with child abuse for "coercing" daughters into abortion.

Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law a bill that will make accessing an abortion much more difficult for teens, even with parental consent. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, a new bill would make it possible to charge parents with child abuse for trying to “coerce” daughters out of carrying pregnancies to term.

Fallin’s signature on HB 1361 wasn’t much in doubt, based on the governor’s past support of abortion restrictions. Minors seeking an abortion in the state now must have the consent of a parent or guardian who has a valid ID and provides a signing, notarized consent form, or the minors may seek a judicial bypass, but the bill stipulates that they can only do so in the county in which they reside. If the judge in that county will not authorize the bypass, teens are left with no safe, legal option.

In Louisiana, lawmakers are considering making it a crime to “coerce” a teen into an abortion, defining such coercion as child abuse. The bill also expands the definition of coercion to include threats of “deprivation of food and shelter.”

The addition of “threats of deprivation” is reminiscent of the February case of a pregnant Texas teen whose parents were accused of trying to coerce her into an abortion by taking away her cell phone and car until she agreed to terminate the pregnancy. The teen testified that they attempted to “make her miserable so that she would give in to the coercion and have the abortion.” The parents denied the allegations, but a judge ruled that the parents must return the car to allow her to get to work and school and pay half of the hospital bills when she gave birth unless she got married in the following months.
While most people would agree that no one, including parents, should threaten a teen into an unwanted abortion, the new language could set the stage for more court challenges in which parents and their children are pitted against each other amid disagreements about what constitutes “threat of deprivation.” Meanwhile, just a short ways away in Oklahoma, a parent who wants to support the decision of a teen who wants an abortion will find it increasingly difficult to do so.

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