Parents can't be with teens all the time

Leslie Lorentzen

Dr. Monique Karaganis shared her personal and professional opinion concerning Ballot Measure 2 in the ADN on July 27 ("Measure 2 could put girls' lives at risk"). Though I am not a medical professional, I share my opinion as a once-abused adolescent.

I am the daughter of a teen mother who had four children by the age of 23; her first at the age of 14. The father of my older brother attempted to kill him and my mother on more than one occasion. You could say that my father was a kind-of savior to my mother. She was swooped from the arms of death and into a half-life. I say half-life because it was not whole. My father was an alcoholic and did drugs. He gave my brother his first joint; he was known at times to get out his gun to make a point; and he sexually abused me from age 12 to 14. I understand what it is like to be an adolescent at risk.

Dr. Karaganis does not share in her op-ed the medical philosophy of her own pediatric practice found on her web site. She says, "Our focus is on education because you, as a parent, will be there with your children all the time." (www.polarpediatrics.com/about_us.html) There is a problem, however, in that the status quo in Alaska does not allow the parent the option to be "there" for our children "all the time."

A child cannot get a mole cut off without parental knowledge, a child cannot take a Tylenol without consent, but a child can have an unwanted fetus surgically removed and be given prescription medication as a result of the procedure. She can have this all done without the parent having to be notified whatsoever.

Ballot Measure 2 may be primarily about parental rights but it also has the fringe benefit of shedding light into the darkness of abuse -- perhaps allowing a child to get the intervention and help so desperately needed before further harm and abuse occur. Secrecy is the womb of abuse. I lived for years being told not to tell. It was in telling that I finally got help. Otherwise, when help is needed most, the child is left in the dark with nothing but an empty womb and a broken heart. No guidance and help through the tumult of emotions that come along with abuse and abortion. Only dirty little secrets.

I have one question for Dr. Karaganis and Ballot Measure 2 opponents. How can Alaska parents, or this Alaska community, be there for our children all the time? The only honest answer is that currently we can't. We're not allowed.

Leslie Lorentzen is an Anchorage writer, mother and survivor of childhood abuse. E-mail, leslielorentzen@msn.com.


By LESLIE LORENTZEN