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Legislating Happy Families? Impossible

August 12, 1996

I want to thank Shari Roan for a well-researched and well-written article on the issue of parental involvement in the sex lives of their teenage children ("Mother, May I?" July 31).

I spent the last 20 years speaking about sexuality and abortion in New Jersey high school health classes, and I very rarely met a teenager, male or female, who could comfortably talk to a parent about sex.

What many people have forgotten is that in the 1940s and '50s, millions of teenagers got pregnant, but the pregnancies usually resulted in shotgun weddings. Also in those years many teens had illegal abortions. Many young women died from back-alley or self-induced abortions.

Medical professionals know that teenagers will not seek medical treatment if they are afraid their parents will find out. How many times do we have to read about newborns found dead in trash cans?

Parents need to care about their children and children need to be able to trust their parents, but we cannot legislate happy families and we must not enact laws that will result in dead teenagers.

FRAN AVALLONE

Los Angeles

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