Condom Moral Dilemma

dennis grace amazing at
Wed Jul 23 12:07:05 PDT 1997

Greetings, Cosyns,

Lyonel ici.

Gnith responds to Dr. Hall's claim that

>>  Now, as a physician, I get a certain amount of protection from irate
>>parents in my dispensing of condoms, etc.


>Hmmm ...
>Why, when the parents who have conceived, given birth to, fed, nurtured,
>protected, educated and financially supported their DEPENDENT MINOR
>children take exception to you subverting their parental choices in secret,
>they are acting 'irate?'

Pardon me if this sounds a bit terse, Gnith, but I don't think I'm being any
more so than the post to which I'm responding.  

Making some pretty sizable assumptions here, aren't you, Gnith?  Okay, say
you're correct and the parent in question has conceived, birthed, fed,
nurtured, protected, educated, and financially supported a child.  Does all
this mean the parent has done *any* of these things correctly?  Does having
fulfilled these requirements mean the parent is more qualified than a
medical professional to make medical decisions?  Does being a parent make
anyone qualified to make any decision whatsoever?

Once you've been a parent, you'll begin to realize that activation of your
reproductive glands does not secrete a mysterious substance which then
produces parental wisdom.  Any male halfwit can produce sperm.  Any female
halfwit can give birth.  The vast majority of parents are faking the wisdom

By the way, Dr. Hall's not "subverting their parental choices in secret";
she's directly countermanding their unprofessional choices and quite openly
admitting it.  She is, however, ethically bound to keep specific details
secret.  In other words she can say, "Yes, Mr. Smith, I will give condoms to
your son if he requests them," but she's ethically bound to add, "I can not
confirm that I have done so."

>>When parents request copies of
>>medical records, these portions of the records are not given out unless
>>the child consents to this.  If you ask, beg, cajole, threaten legal
>>action, etc., I will not tell you if your teenager is being treated for
>>these things. 
>It's sad indeed to think that the 'rights' of children who can barely
>comprehend the potential long-term gravity of their actions outweigh the
>rights of the parents who have struggled and sacrificed for years to raise

There's that assumption thing happening all over again, Gnith.  

First, "struggled and sacrificed for years" doesn't work out as a parental
constant.  In my experience, the parents who've done the least and shoddiest
parenting are often the most vocal about their "parental rights."  They have
this goofy notion that--because they gave birth--they "own" the results.
You have to remember, though perhaps not mature yet, teenagers are still
human beings, and we have laws in this country against considering human
beings property.

Second, "minor" in the US generally means under eighteen years of age.  This
number, while generally a reasonable assessment of maturity, is an arbitrary
number.  Our laws even enforce this limit somewhat arbitrarily.  No, it
isn't legal for a sixteen-year-old to drink, and yes, a thirty-year-old
bedding a fifteen-year-old is statutorily a rapist.  On the other hand,
thirteen-year-old murderers are often tried as adults. Pregnant 14-year-olds
are allowed to receive assistance (WIC) and are generally held to be primary
guardians of any children they birth.  This considered, it seems rather
foolish to set up roadblocks that might prevent minors' obtaining
protection.  If they're going to be held responsible for their decisions,
why take steps to increase the probability of their decision having negative
consequences?  Remember, in most cases, the unavailability of a condom is
not sufficient negative impetus to prevent a sexual liaison.

Third, you seem to be saying parents have a right to know that their sons
and daughters are getting condoms from medical professionals or being
treated for STDs.  Why do you believe this?  What good will it do for the
parent to know? Assume I really have no idea what you're talking about.  I
don't want to make ungenerous assumptions about your motives here.  Let's
assume that you suspected a teenage daughter--16 year old, say--of having
obtained condoms from a physician.  If the physician actually confirmed your
suspicions, what would you do with the knowledge?

lo vostre por vos servir

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace
Dennis Grace
University of Texas at Austin
English Department
Recovering Medievalist
amazing at

Micel yfel deth se unwritere.
                           Ælfric of York

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