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Forcing parental involvement in abortions can make the procedure — and the patient — less safe

What can make abortion care less safe is unnecessary delays that occur when politicians create obstacles based on ideology, not medical necessity. One such obstacle is parental notice.

The Illinois State Capitol
AP Photo/Seth Perlman

Dr. Robert Lawler‘s recent opinion piece calling on the Illinois Legislature not to repeal the Parental Notification Act is premised on thin supports. To be sure, Dr. Lawler offers a single, sensational example of medical complications from an abortion procedure, a procedure that he acknowledges he does not perform in his practice.

In my practice, which includes providing a full spectrum of obstetric and gynecologic care, including abortion care, we understand that abortion is a safe medical procedure performed by those with training.

And this is not simply my opinion. An independent panel of experts convened by the federal government agreed that abortion is safe and serious complications are rare. What can make abortion care less safe is unnecessary delays that occur when politicians create obstacles based on ideology, not medical necessity. One such obstacle is parental notice.

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The Illinois Parental Notification Act creates obtrusive, harmful obstacles for young people seeking abortion care, which can delay timely access, making medical care more complicated. What I see in practice is that when a young person is seeking to end a pregnancy, they are most often accompanied and supported by a parent or an adult family member they trust.

I have also seen how forcing a young person to choose from a designated set of family members selected by politicians in Springfield can cause significant harm. There are young people who do not have a functional, affirming relationship with these designated adults, and disclosure of abortion care can lead to physical and emotional trauma and isolation, both social and financial. If our goal is to “do no harm,” then we must place our trust in young people who are the experts in their own experience, to involve the adults who have earned their trust.

Forcing parental involvement simply opens up young people to harm. It is my obligation as a medical provider to listen to young people, lessen their burden and avoid causing harm.

Rebecca Commito, MD, is an OB/GYN in practice in Chicago.

A pledge for education

At one point, almost every child on the planet was out of school and every parent was left to figure out a new daily reality. For many, this marked a transition to online or hybrid learning. But for many other children facing poverty, isolation or pushed to the margins, it has meant no school at all.

The education crisis brought on by COVID-19 threatens the historic progress made by communities globally to get millions more children in school. Urgent action is needed so that COVID-19 education crisis does not become a catastrophe for an entire generation.

As the only international fund of its kind, the Global Partnership for Education marshals global resources for national education plans. Now, GPE and its partners have a five-year plan to support learning for 175 million more children in lower-income countries, helping recovery from the pandemic.

The Biden administration must do its part by making a $1 billion, five-year commitment to GPE. At this critical moment in global history, a bold pledge will show the U.S. is committed to working hand in hand with the global community to ensure every child can achieve their dreams and reach their potential.

Greg Stawinoga, South Holland