Keep your laws off your neighbors!

Missouri drives teens seeking abortions out of state -- and then nabs them there, too.

Published January 12, 2006 12:42PM (EST)

Missouri is playing legal Whack-a-Mole with teen girls' rights. According to the Chicago Tribune (in an article similar to the L.A. Times' recent portrait of an Arkansas abortion provider), the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Ill., has encountered "many difficult situations" ever since neighboring Missouri passed a law allowing civil litigation to be brought against those who "cause, aid, or assist" Missouri minors in getting abortions -- anywhere -- without parental consent. (Shades of CIANA, coming soon to a Senate near you.)

While Illinois does not require parental consent -- making it a "magnet state" for abortions, quoth the bill's sponsor, Missouri state Sen. John Loudon -- at this point, it might as well. After some legal wrangling, the clinic finally announced that it would no longer provide abortions for Missouri minors without parental consent. (Almost 200 of the 5,400 patients the clinic served in 2005 were pregnant minors from Missouri.) "I think it's very disturbing that one state can have such a chilling effect on another state's laws," Hope Clinic executive director Sally Burgess said. Yep.

An informal survey at the clinic showed that 70 percent of minors do tell at least one parent on their own; these numbers reflect national stats. It's the other 30 perecent of pregnant girls we have to worry about -- and that pandering legislators like Loudon are willing to sacrifice to the utterly false god of "parent-teen communication."

Consider, for example, some of the "difficult situations" faced by Hope Clinic:

-- The father of a Missouri teen wanted to bring her in for an abortion. But her birth certificate was in another state and he could not prove he was the father in order to give consent.

-- Two teens whose mothers are in prison and whose fathers are whereabouts unknown.

-- A minor who was raped crossing the border from Mexico. As an illegal alien, she had no documents to prove she was not a Missouri minor.

-- A patient who, when told of the parental consent law, opted to wait another month until she turned 18. At 16 weeks pregnant instead of 12, she had to have a more complicated two-day procedure rather than the simpler, safer and earlier one.

As for what became of the other four girls, the clinic didn't say.

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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