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Communication

October 20, 1987

Gov. George Deukmejian has truly struck a blow for the family by signing legislation requiring pregnant teen-agers to obtain parental consent to have an abortion, but the blow was misdirected. The penalty, 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, is directed at the doctor who performs the service. If the intent, as supporters have contended, is to "encourage" communication between teen-agers and their parents, wouldn't it make more sense for the penalty to be applied to the pregnant teen? Is it not she who has failed to communicate? Why should the doctor be held responsible?

But why wait until the teen-ager is pregnant? It would be a logical extension of this legislation to make it a crime, a felony perhaps, for a teen-ager to fail to inform her parents of the intent to have sexual intercourse. The parents, who may have missed previous opportunities to do so, would then be able to provide appropriate instruction in moral values and/or the methods of birth control.

In fairness, criminal sanctions should also be applied to parents who fail in their duty to provide sex instructions to their children. Perhaps special prisons could be built so that whole families could all be locked up together. Just think what this could do for family togetherness and open communication.

Of course, some sacrifice of personal and family privacy would be necessary to enforce these laws, but I'm sure we would all be happy to give up a little privacy for the sake of stronger families. Besides, Judge Robert Bork has already told us that we have no constitutional right to privacy in the first place. If the state has a legitimate right to legislate the nature of relationships between parents and children, it must have the tools to exercise this right.

PATRICK I. LaFOLLETTE

Highland Park

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