The wonderful age of 17. That year in a girl’s life where she can’t get a body piercing without parental consent, but she can have an abortion and not tell a single soul. Or the year when a boy or girl gets their own medical records, which their parents can’t see, but if he or she wants to have an elective surgical procedure done while under the age of 18, they must have parental consent. In the midst of all that confusion, there is still the question of why are you deemed an adult at 18, but not trusted to drink alcohol until you are 21. The labyrinth of confusingly conflicting age laws can be found anywhere from medical practices to the national drinking age. For young adults in today’s society, navigating this maze of: “you’re old enough for that, but too young for this” creates a constant feeling of oppression — of not being able to be in control of oneself.
California laws are anything but clear when it comes to age limits. That I can’t use a tanning bed while under the age of 18 without consent from a doctor and my parents, but can have an abortion is mind-blowing. Whether I am pro-life or pro-choice is irrelevant, but California’s age laws are disconcerting. I must have parental consent to get a body piercing or use a tanning bed, and while the argument of infections and skin cancer come into play, there are just as many risks when it comes to abortions. Hemorrhage (excessive bleeding), damage to the cervix (the entrance of the womb), and damage to the womb itself are all risks of abortions that can happen within the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, these risks become more likely and dangerous to the mother involved. It doesn’t stop at physical risks as well; the mental toll an abortion can take on a woman can be just as bad as the physical.
In a study of post-abortion patients, in only eight weeks after an abortion, researchers found that 44% complained of nervous disorders, 36% had experienced sleep disturbances, 31% had regrets about their decision, and 11% had been prescribed psychotropic medicine by their family doctor, according to afterabortion.org.
Just imagine a 14-year-old girl going through that turmoil and making this life-changing decision without her parents.
When you turn 17, you get your own medical records that your parents no longer have access to, which doesn’t make sense because you are still a minor. Therefore, your parents should have access to your records since you are still treated like their ward in all other ways. Then, you turn 18, and you are legally an adult and can buy cigarettes and lottery tickets, but you can’t buy alcohol until you’re 21. Meanwhile, you are still a part of your parents’ health insurance plan until you are 26. Someone please tell me when I have control over my life because from looking at these laws, I have no idea.
If I am responsible enough to drive a car at the age of 16, putting both my life and those of others on the road in danger, then why am I not responsible enough to put an earring in my own ear? Body piercings don’t endanger anyone else, and it’s my body, so it should be my choice what I do with it.
The solution to these conflicting laws isn’t simple or easy. The reconstruction of multiple national laws will have to be achieved to really settle when a young adult is legally a young adult. There should be a clear age where a juvenile becomes an adult in every aspect of their life, from their medical insurance to their drinking age. Whether that age is 18 or 21 can be decided by the public, but it makes no sense to tell a young adult that he or she is legally on their own but can’t buy alcohol. Also, a decision should be made on what a juvenile needs parental consent for. When it comes to abortions, piercings, tanning beds, and medical records, there once again needs to be one clear and concise age that pertains to all of these subjects. They all involve personal choice and what a juvenile does with his/her body, and forcing a girl to jump through hoops just to use a tanning bed but be able to walk straight into an abortion clinic doesn’t make sense.
These laws not only affect the growing children in America, but parents and loved ones of those affected by these annoying laws. The time needs to come when we define when the umbilical cord gets cut. The simplest way to do that is to create one concise age that informs your parents that it’s time to kick you out of the nest.