One seldom looks to government officials for logic. After all, a politician’s chief skill is generally the ability to look good while spouting the kind of nonsense that would make Kurt Vonnegut proud.
But a Connecticut legislator had a flash of insight recently about helping parents be involved in their children’s lives that is most rare.
A bill that would have required parental approval to allow teenagers to go to a tanning parlor died when it came into conflict with an amendment that would require parental notification for abortions. Apparently judging that to be a toxic combination, the Democratically controlled Senate refused to bring the measure forward.
It occurred to Connecticut State Sen. Michael McLachlan, (R-Danbury), that it was just as important to have parental involvement in choosing an elective surgery, with all the uncertainties that surgery entails, as it is to have parental involvement with an activity most closely associated with Malibu Barbie and the Jersey Shore.
After all, we’re told excessive tanning is bad for your health. But most grown ups agree that surgery has its drawback as well.
Pro-life or pro-choice, few people want to see young girls, living at home, pressured to have abortion surgery by predatory males counting on state policy to keep their misdeeds in the dark. And even if a girl is so in danger at home that she needs to talk with a sympathetic judge about her situation then it is the duty of those in authority to compassionately help her. Young, vulnerable girls need protecting. Any good mother can tell you that.
But not surprisingly, all the politically correct forces came to bare on the senator, with all their usual sound and fury. Somehow, the senator was engaging in a “ridiculous” campaign that kept proper tanning regulations from seeing the light of day.
Speaking to Dan Lovallo of Talk of Connecticut, Sen. McLauchlan noted that not only was his amendment not a surprise, last-minute tactic to hurt the future of parental involvement in tanning (the measure was filed in April) but it is an idea already under consideration in the state.
Better regulation of tanning is probably a good idea, said the state senator in the Wednesday radio interview, but “I don’t see how it could possibly be ridiculous if in the state of Connecticut a parent has to give permission to have your ears pierced if you’re a minor child and yet a parent does not have to give permission to have an abortion.”
The self-appointed champion of tanning regulation, Nancy Alderman, executive director of Environment and Human Health Inc., a North Haven-based advocacy group, in discussing the events, told the newstimes.com, "The World Health Organization says tanning beds are as dangerous as cigarettes.”
Perhaps so. Long-term effects of things like tanning, smoking, drinking and dangerous sexual practices seems like a good thing to discuss and monitor on behalf of our children, along with things like good diet, exercise and staying in school. But parents don’t look to the state to decide which thing deserves their attention. For parents, it’s all of the above.
The parents of Connecticut much be watching this farce with some bemusement. Why would society regulate cigarette use, the distribution of alcohol to minor and ear piercing but refuse to consider that a surgery was worthy of conversation?
Parental involvement is said to be a factor in such social goods as higher test scores, delayed sexual involvement, and avoidance of criminal incarceration. Surely parental wisdom would be equally well employed in a discussion about elective surgery, as it would be applied to a discussion of sunscreen.
Recently a mother appearing on Good Morning America caused a national outrage when she said that she gave her daughter Botox injections. The San Francisco Human Services Agency began an investigation following the show, and according to media reports, the girl has been removed from her home.
Apparently, a procedure on a child is not something to be taken lightly … unless, it would seem the procedure is abortion.
Kristi Stone Hamrick is a media consultant and mother of four.