please react in a positive manner to the following post, above is the original question:


Maria is 14 years old, Hispanic, and Catholic. She recently found out after taking a home pregnancy test that she was nine weeks pregnant. She has told her best friend, Angela, and they both agree that Maria cannot tell her parents and that the best course of action is to secretly have an abortion. Angela also has recommended that Maria visit the school counselor for advice and direction on what to do and where to go for an abortion. Pretend that you are the school counselor. What advice might you present to Maria? In your advice, be sure to address how you will handle the issue of confidentiality, abortion, and any other choice present for Maria. Additionally, mention your state’s laws regarding minors and abortion.

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As a school counselor faced with a young student who expresses an interest in obtaining an abortion, I would begin by giving her the opportunity to share any feelings she may wish to discuss. It is important that the student feel that she has been heard and that the counselor is providing the best information possible. Before getting into a deeper conversation with her, I would make sure that she understands the law. I would not want to imprint my attitudes towards abortion on her, as it is not my decision to make, as mandated by Section A.4.b. of the American Counseling Association’s (2014) Code of Ethics.

According to Planned Parenthood (n.d.), any minor (age 17 or under) does not need parental permission to acquire an abortion in the state of Illinois. The Illinois Grand Assembly, however, stipulates that the attending physician must make every reasonable effort to notify the parents, or an adult family member, of said minor at least 48 hours prior to the procedure, providing there is no legal waiver to the contrary (1995). The assembly goes on to state that potential ramifications of having an abortion can be serious and long-lasting and that some minors may not have the maturity to make fully informed choices with such permanent consequences (1995). Thus, I would make sure that the student understood that barring legal intervention, there is no such thing as a “secret abortion” in Illinois.

Once Maria has demonstrated that she understands the law, I would ask if she would care to discuss what it might be like once her parents have been informed. I would also ask if there was anyone else that she felt she ought to talk to before taking action. In essence, I have a presumably concerned, pregnant girl and want her to make an informed decision that will be in her best interest. Again, I cannot tell her what to do, but I can ask questions that may open doors to considerations she may not have thought of. Would an abortion conflict with any deeply held convictions, her heritage, or affiliations? Part of this discussion would entail giving her the choice to ask questions regarding what life might look like were she to change her mind (while refraining from encouraging any feelings of guilt or misleading her in any way). I would only discuss likely details of the fetus at 9 weeks with her permission. I would also ask if she has thought about keeping the pregnancy to term for adoption. I would be especially careful not to refer to the fetus as her baby or her child, as this would be an ethical breech.

Here, I would give Maria the option of telling her parents in a family session, so that I could mitigate and mediate. Otherwise, Planned Parenthood has a standard form that they send. By telling her parents together, I could help navigate parental response, while informing them of Illinois law. Again, as stated by the Illinois Grand Assembly, younger patients may not have the maturity to make the decision by themselves. Another option may be to see if Maria has an interest in attending a group with other teens who have either terminated or maintained their pregnancies (1995).

Once Maria has made up her mind about what to do, I would seek to protect myself from any legal ramifications by contacting Planned Parenthood (not on Maria’s behalf, but to be assured of their polices). I would likely also want to contact the attorney I would have on retainer for such touchy cases. Finally, I would provide Maria with any allowable information she requests (such as how to contact Planned Parenthood), but would refrain from making contact for her.

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