The Raving Theist

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High Court Weighs Parental Notification for Shoplifting

December 3, 2005 | 33 Comments

Washington D.C., December 3, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

The U.S. Supreme heard a challenge Wednesday to a New Hampshire law requiring that a parent be notified if a child is detained for shoplifting.

The case arose out of an incident in which a teenage girl attempted suicide when, after being caught stealing from a local store, her mother subjected her to what she described as a “piercing silence” on the drive home.

Opponents of the law claim the girl’s case is typical. “Millions of children face abuse at the hands of parents who harbor irrational objections to individualized economic redistribution initiatives,” said Jill Lauren of the Property is Theft Society (the PITS). “Furthermore, in some cases a parent is responsible for the situation, having trained the child in merchandise removal skills and being all too eager to conceal the act from the authorities and take a disproportionate share of the proceeds.”

Lauren noted that a child who comes to the PITS instead will receive non-judgmental counseling on how to dispose of the goods without unwarranted interference from parental or governmental authorities. The PITS runs a nationwide chain of property exchange centers, or “pawn” shops, which accept merchandise at a discount and return a portion of the sale proceeds to any shopkeeper who agrees to keep the matter out of the courts. “The PITS recognizes and respects that people have differing views regarding constitutes ‘ownership,’ and believes that the complex choices resulting from that conflict of rights are best made without state intrusion.”

Lauren added that a child is far better served by Jack-What’s-His-Name from God-Knows-Where that she’s met two minutes before at the PITS than parents with a pronounced bias in the matter. “Property right are a private matter between a child and her fence,” she said.

Ms. Lauren scoffed at the notion that striking down the law could lead to parents ultimately being cut out of decisions involving their children’s and grandchildren’s medical treatment. “Shoplifting is not a life or death matter,” she noted. “In fact, if we were even debating something as serious as that, it would be a sure sign that this country had gone completely out of its fucking mind.”


33 Responses to “High Court Weighs Parental Notification for Shoplifting”

  1. Mookie
    December 3rd, 2005 @ 10:02 pm

    I’m confused, I don’t see any reference to religion anywhere.

  2. inkadu
    December 4th, 2005 @ 12:27 am

    That’s because this is not about shoplifting. It’s about parental notification for [i]abortion[/i]. If parents should be notified about shoplifting, isn’t it immediately obvious that they should be notified about abortion?

    It’s a pretty weak comparison, IMHO. Shoplifting is illegal. Abortion is not. Shoplifting is a crime against society. Abortion is not. Parents are expected to keep their children from committing criminal acts, but not expected to keep them virginal until 18.

  3. sternwallow
    December 4th, 2005 @ 1:43 am

    “individualized economic redistribution initiatives” Classic

  4. Lucy Muff
    December 4th, 2005 @ 4:22 am

    this be good way for yous all to think about killing inocent babies and giving the finger to god. you want yor dawter stealing from shops and spreading the legs for horny heathens? No, so see the cpmparison hear for your own gods sakes and understand the point, GOD is the only salvation, and JESUS SAVES. Wheteher you be whore or thief, the bible has direct message to you of love and forgiveness. LET JESUS HELP. don’r steal, and don’t be slut. DO read your bible

  5. a different tim
    December 4th, 2005 @ 6:48 am

    As far as I recall the issue in New Hampshire is that proposed modifications to the law will require not just that parents are informed under normal circumstances, but that they are also informed when there is an urgent need to terminate for medical reasons (as sometimes happens). Even if the parents are uncontactable. Even if the minor is unconscious, carries no ID and noone knows who the parents are. So we’re looking at the possibility of someone taken seriously ill, their life may be in the balance, and the law will require that the parents are found and informed before doctors can do a thing.

    Funny article, though.

  6. Seldonster
    December 4th, 2005 @ 8:20 am

    So, TRA argues that parents should be privy to everything that happens in their childrens’ lives and have control over everything they do. Therefore, TRA considers children as property, well, maybe like livestock.

    Then, since my children are my property I should also have the right to dispose of them (in a humane manner) at will, correct?

  7. inkadu
    December 4th, 2005 @ 12:54 pm

    If fetuses have right, why can’t children and teenagers? Parental notification is all about making sure children do not have abortions if their parents don’t want them to. That is a violation of their individual rights.

  8. Mister Swill
    December 4th, 2005 @ 3:14 pm

    Time to bring up the old reminder:

    Raving Atheist, although you have made plenty of moral arguments regarding why you think abortion is wrong, you have yet to make a single practical argument regarding why you think abortion should be illegal. I’m sure that, as a lawyer, you understand the difference.

  9. Mookie
    December 4th, 2005 @ 3:15 pm

    He used to put that little “Unaborted Atheist” banner above such posts. Another lame abortion post. RA should do the Lord’s work and just blow up some abortion clinics, that is sure to solve a lot more than just whining about it.

  10. probligo
    December 4th, 2005 @ 3:19 pm

    Inkadu, when should parents stop taking responsibility for the actions of their children? At birth when they become “people”? At age five when they become the problem of the school system? At age ten when they reach puberty? At some later arbitrary age?

  11. Graham
    December 4th, 2005 @ 5:38 pm

    Excellent satirical rant.

    The only logical argument against parental notification is that a pregnant teenager might be abused by their parents after they find out she’s pregnant and seeking an abortion. All the arguments that it’s “the child’s right” to have an abortion privately are ludacris.

    Children do not have the right to seek out any other kind of medical treatment without their parents’ consent, such as nose jobs or other elective surgery, and so abortion shouldn’t be any different. Unless, of course, if the teenager appears in the ER and needs an abortion to save their life immediately. In that case, it should be performed to save the mothers life.

    However, I would think that the number of teens who would be seriously abused by their parents if the parental notification laws were standard across the country would be fairly small. If there’s serious evidence to disprove this, then I’d change my mind, but I just don’t think that many parents would kill their pregnant teens in a blind rage.

    At any rate, the fundamentals of the law should prevail here. If you are under 18, then you can’t have an elective medical procedure without your parent’s consent. And if you kill your pregnant teenager daughter in a fit of rage at her request to get an abortion, then you should get the death penalty.

  12. Mary
    December 4th, 2005 @ 5:58 pm

    Note that the doctor, if he suspects the girl is being physically abused, is required by law to report her as a case of child abuse.

    Incidentially, what would happen if a girl showed at the ER with a condition that needed treatment other than an abortion to save her health? (Which is what the New Hampshire law is about.)

  13. Jill
    December 4th, 2005 @ 11:36 pm

    Cute. It’s great the trivialize the very real experiences of young women who are genuinely threatened with physical abuse if they are forced to tell their parents about having an abortion. One example, from a Dear Abby column:

    DEAR ABBY: From time to time, you tell young women who think they might be pregnant and are afraid to tell their parents, to do so. I usually do not write letters like this, but I need to express my personal experience. I am a minister. Several years ago, I worked for Planned Parenthood and we had a young girl — around 13 years of age — test positive for pregnancy. We urged her to tell her parents, but she kept refusing, insisting, “Dad will kill me!”
    Of course, we knew better, and finally convinced her that the best thing was to tell her parents, have the baby, and get on with her life.

    Her father beat her so badly that she was in the hospital for more than a month. She lost the baby because of the beating and ended up in foster care.

    I will never again tell a young person that her parents will not go crazy, and I don’t think you should do that either. Thanks, Abby. I enjoy your column. — REGRETFUL IN FLORIDA

    You can be as snarky as you please, but the fact is that parental notification and consent laws really only affect young women coming from bad family situations. The vast majority of young women (upwards of 95%, I believe) tell one or both parents when faced with an unintended pregnancy — those who don’t usually have a good reason. So this law isn’t much of an issue at all for most young women. However, the ones who it is an issue for are the ones most harmed by it. This is one of those laws that serves no positive purpose. Yes, we all want to know if our daughters are having an abortion — but does our desire to know trump the right to physical safety of a minority of teenage girls? I don’t think it does. (As to the point that “if you kill your pregnant teenager daughter in a fit of rage at her request to get an abortion, then you should get the death penalty,” well, that doesn’t do much for the dead teenager, does it?).

    And as long as you’re going to criticize the New Hampshire law, you might want to check out the court case. It’s not parental notification itself that’s the direct issue, but the part of the statute which requires parental notification even when the young woman’s health is threatened.

  14. Jivin J
    December 5th, 2005 @ 1:44 pm

    Do you have any evidence that “parental notification and consent laws really only affect young women coming from bad family situations?”

    Besides, of course, anecdotal testimonial evidence from anonymous Planned Parenthood employee.

    Or in your mind does every minor who doesn’t want to tell their parents about their upcoming abortion come from a “bad family situation?”

    Could you also give me a realistic situation or an actual health crisis that endangers a young woman’s health (not life – since there is a life exception) where abortion is the only plausible solution and that solution needs to be enacted in the next two days.

  15. jahrta
    December 6th, 2005 @ 11:28 am

    How’s this for a good reason why abortion should remain a legal and viable option: There are over 6 billion people in the world. Our population growth rate is roughly 2 percent. every 35 years, using the rule of 70, our population doubles. I don’t want to be drowing in 12 billion people 35 years from now. Our planet is rapidly approaching the limits of what it can produce to feed us in any sustainable manner. Read Rostow’s theories about carrying capacity and population growth if you would like further evidence rather than just my word.

    While the evangelicals, neocons and misguided Raving members of certain blog sites are rallying against the practice of abortion, maybe they should be focusing on the much larger problem of overpopulation.

  16. hermesten
    December 6th, 2005 @ 11:41 am

    More abortion rap. Yawn.

  17. jahrta
    December 6th, 2005 @ 12:25 pm

    Well what did you expect to find in this thread? a simply charming holiday recipe for wassail?

    because that’d be cool

  18. hermesten
    December 6th, 2005 @ 3:42 pm

    On this thread yes. I was yawning in the context of the whole site.

  19. Jivin J
    December 6th, 2005 @ 3:46 pm

    If over population is a such a large problem, why don’t we implement a social policy of killing every 5th (or so) toddler once they reach the age of 2? Wouldn’t this also work to solve the hypothetical problem of over population?

    If you are opposed to such a social policy, please explain why?

  20. jahrta
    December 6th, 2005 @ 4:48 pm

    There’s nothing hypothetical about the very real problem of overpopulation, Jivin.

    If you can’t distinguish the differences inherent between advocating for abortion rights and your tongue-in-cheek (hopefully) idea to slay toddlers, I’m afraid the particulars of the debate are beyond your grasp.

    The simple fact of the matter is that a clump of cells is not a person, and if you would fight against the rights of actual living breathing and cogent people to seek out legal abortions then you’re actually advocating a path that will lead to even more of a wellfare state than we already have (and can’t afford). If you don’t want an abortion I’d suggest not having one. Other than that I think it’s a very personal issue and people should keep religion way the hell out of it, while keeping it around as a viable option to the public.

    In the meantime let me ask you this: Even if Jesus Bush is able to outlaw abortions and rustle up all the evildoers, do you really believe that people who want/need them still won’t find ways of getting the job done?

  21. jahrta
    December 6th, 2005 @ 4:49 pm

    So i responded to your post and got this message:

    Thank you for commenting.

    Your comment has been received.

    To protect against malicious comments and comment spam, I have enabled a feature that allows your comments to be held for approval the first time you post. To improve this process please make sure you always use the same name and email address when posting comments to this site.

    I’ll approve your comment when convenient; there is no need to re-post your comment.

    The Raving Atheist

    …did I stutter? this is hardly the first time I’ve posted. And since when the hell does RA screen for malicious content? What the hell is happening to this place?

  22. Jivin J
    December 7th, 2005 @ 8:53 am

    So according to you, we don’t kill people to solve the supposed overpopulation problem, correct? Then the real question isn’t “Are we overpopulated?” but “Are the unborn people like toddlers?”

    It’s a fact that the unborn are persons? Really? Do you have a factual, non-arbitrary definition of person? Are you also able to prove that the unborn don’t fit this definition while all the born human beings you want to be persons do?

    If you don’t want an abortion I’d suggest not having one.

    I’m sorry but this is the lamest pro-choice argument in the book. It’s like saying, “Don’t like slavery, then don’t own a slave” or “Don’t like child abuse, then don’t abuse your child.”

    George Bush won’t be able to outlaw all abortions. I’m fairly certain he wouldn’t even want to do that. But to answer your question: No, making abortion illegal wouldn’t completely stop abortion. Illegal actions happen everyday. Making something illegal is no guarantee that the action won’t occur anymore. However, this isn’t a good argument for why abortion should be legal anymore than saying “We should make child abuse illegal because people will still abuse their children.”

  23. jahrta
    December 7th, 2005 @ 9:29 am


    “So according to you, we don’t kill people to solve the supposed overpopulation problem, correct? Then the real question isn’t “Are we overpopulated?” but “Are the unborn people like toddlers?”

    – depends on the point during gestation. without a formed and functional brain, and the ability to survive outside the womb, then no, a fetus isn’t a toddler.

    And don’t equate an abortion with child abuse, that’s just a puerile method of trying to legitimize your stance that women shouldn’t have abortions under any circumstances, including rape, incest and in cases where the mother faced a potentially life-threatening pregnancy. No mother ever had to decide whether to beat her child or possibly die if she didn’t.

  24. Mary
    December 7th, 2005 @ 6:56 pm

    No mother ever had to decide whether to beat her child or possibly die if she didn’t.

    Do you want to limit abortion to those cases where this is the mother’s choice?

  25. Graham
    December 7th, 2005 @ 10:22 pm

    “- depends on the point during gestation. without a formed and functional brain, and the ability to survive outside the womb, then no, a fetus isn’t a toddler.”

    The age at which a fetus can survive outside the womb on life support is rapidly decreasing. Pretty soon, it will be not only possible, but actually quite practical to grow a fetus in a lab not long after conception. If your point of differentiation between a fetus (which can be aborted) and a toddler (which cannot be killed) is viability outside the womb, then pretty soon 90% of all fetuses would be considered “toddlers” as they could theoretically be extracted from the womb and allowed to develop independently of the mother.

    And if a “functional” brain is your other criteria for protection from abortion, then at what level is a brain “functioning”? You’re on a slippery slope to euthanasia for handicapped people here.

  26. jahrta
    December 8th, 2005 @ 9:27 am

    I know many adults who don’t appear to be in possession of a functional brain, so perhaps you’re right.

  27. Jivin J
    December 8th, 2005 @ 10:08 am

    I’m well aware that a fetus isn’t a toddler – neither is a newborn. What I’m trying to get you to acknowledge is that if we don’t kill toddlers and newborns because of the possible overpopulation problem then the real question isn’t whether the world is overpopulated or not but are the unborn people like toddlers or not.

    It seems that your criteria for personhood is a “formed and functional brain” and the “ability to survive outside the womb.” Do you have any reasons why anyone should accept your definition of personhood over say someone who says that newborns aren’t persons because they can’t feed themselves?

    In my last comment, I wasn’t equating abortion with child abuse. I was merely pointing out how the logic you were using could also be used to justify a host of actions that you are probably against, including child abuse.

  28. jahrta
    December 8th, 2005 @ 1:53 pm

    Like countless others have said before me, there is a very hazy and oft-blurred line that separates a fetus from a “child,” and there are a host of ethical reasons both for and against the practice of abortion, but I maintain that the decision over whether or not to have one needs to remain a viable one. That was the main driving force behind my original post – that, and also that we will face an overpopulation problem with massive socio-economic ramifications if we deny access to the procedure. Just out of curiosity though, Jivin, are you a man or a woman?

  29. Mary
    December 8th, 2005 @ 7:29 pm

    Did we see a massive drop in the birthrate when abortion became legal? No, we didn’t.

    Why therefore do you think that there will be an massive increase in the birth rate if it becomes illegal again?

  30. jahrta
    December 9th, 2005 @ 9:19 am

    because there will simply be more people who would be in a position to have an abortion 35 years from now (twice as many people in the world as there are now, by the rule of 70). At that time, when there are 12 billion people in the world, abortion in cases of unplanned or otherwise unwanted pregnancies may seem to be a desirable solution to a growing problem – not enough world to go around. We know how people’s perceptions of this issue change under these circumstances because this is pretty much exactly what happened in China. Free toaster over with every sterilization (although one may argue that sterilization is more “humane” than abortion).

  31. Jivin J
    December 9th, 2005 @ 10:33 am

    You claim there are a host of reasons for legal abortion but then you don’t supply any.

    Wouldn’t killing toddlers also solve the supposed over population problem? Why not just kill anyone who reaches the age of 65? Why is killing the unborn a viable option while killing other human beings is not?

  32. jahrta
    December 13th, 2005 @ 10:22 am

    Jivin – since abortion became legal, the rate of unwanted pregnancies carried to term fell drastically, and along with it, the number of children raised off of welfare by parent(s) in no position to spare either the time or expense to raise them properly. Setting aside the obvious tax burden carried by everyone else to help provide for these children, many raised in these conditions turn to crime and drugs for a multitude of reasons. It has been shown that since Roe V. Wade, the crime rates in this country have dropped significantly. Is that a good enough reason for you?

    And just in case there’s any confusion, I think late term abortions are a bad idea in general, but sometimes they only become “late term” abortions because so many people face political red tape when they decide to have one.

  33. jahrta
    December 13th, 2005 @ 10:24 am

    Jivin – most people who are 65 aren’t going to produce any more offspring.

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