Twenty-two year old Matthew Koso married his pregnant girlfriend Crystal in Kansas last May. The bride was 14 years old. The two began dating when she was twelve and made hurried plans to marry earlier this year when it was learned she was pregnant. The two lived in Nebraska, but traveled to Kansas where it was legal for them to marry with permission of Crystal’s parents.
In an August 31 editorial titled “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” the New York Times blasted the marriage, citing the young age of the bride. The Times opined, “The fact that parents are willing to go along with these unions does not make them right.” Further, the Times complained that “neither parental nor state approval makes it right to tie a girl as young as 12 to another person in what is supposed to be a lifetime commitment.”
But do not get caught up in the notion that the Times has taken a principled stand on the inability of underage girls to properly decide what is right for themselves even with parental consultation. For more than a decade, the Times has assumed the strong editorial position that parental notification laws for underage girls getting abortions — even for those who cross state lines — are wrong.
In a March 29, 1993 opinion, the Times endorsed pending federal legislation that would have streamlined the ability of minors to get abortions without parental consent. In a series of 1996 editorials, the paper labeled state parental consent laws “wrongs on abortion” (September 3) and claimed that abortion rights were “under siege” (January 25) by state laws such as the one in Delaware restricting underage girls from getting an abortion until 24 hours after at least one parent had been notified.
During the 2000 election season the Times tried to inject state parental notification requirements into the presidential race, calling them an attempt to “chip away at a woman’s right to choose” (May 27) and labeling them a curb on “reproductive freedom” (October 11).
When the New Jersey Supreme Court struck down that state’s parental notification requirement for minors seeking abortions, the Times called it “enlightened rejection” (August 18, 2000).
More recently, the Times attacked U.S. Appellate Court nominee Priscilla Owen in an April 28, 2005 editorial over her legal opinion as a Texas Supreme Court justice in a case regarding parental consent requirements. Two years earlier (April 17, 2003), the Times urged a filibuster against Owen’s nomination citing the same issue as justification to block a confirmation vote.
In an April 19, 2002 editorial, the Times criticized a proposed federal law that would have made it illegal for an underage girl to cross state lines to pursue an abortion with any adult other than a parent if the minor had not satisfied her home state’s parental consent requirements. The Times called it a violation of “state sovereignty.” Three years earlier (June 30, 1999), the Times called a similar bill “a cold-hearted piece of legislation” because it criminalized the actions of any adult other than a parent when accompanying a minor across state lines for an abortion without proper parental notification.
Upon reviewing the editorial positions of the New York Times, one may conclude the paper believes the Matthew and Crystal Koso marriage scenario should have played out as follows: A 14-year-old, pregnant girl should not have been allowed to marry the 22-year-old father of her child, an act that could be reversed via divorce or annulment, even with parental consent. Assuming responsibility for his actions, attempting to make a go of marriage, and starting a family by the father is out of the realm of possibilities. Yet the Times believes the same underage girl should be able to cross state lines without parental notification and accompanied by the very same 22-year-old man who got her pregnant in order to get an abortion, a major medical procedure, and an act that cannot be undone.
What the Times‘s editorial stance illustrates is that the paper is unconcerned with the best interests of underage girls and is instead entirely preoccupied with making abortion available to anyone of any age regardless of the actions leading up to the pregnancy and the consequences of having an abortion.
It is challenging to imagine what deliberative arguments the Times used to arrive at such an illogical position. Whether one supports or opposes abortion does not change the fact that underage girls who did not consider the consequences of having sexual relations at a tender age cannot be expected to miraculously consider all of the consequences of having a permanent procedure such as an abortion without counsel from at least one parent. That the editorial staff of The New York Times cannot see this is very troubling, indeed.
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