Deputy Attorney General Nominee David Ogden’s Abortion Problem

March 4, 2009 - 12:46 PM
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Cathy Ruse, Family Research Council

Last Thursday, President Obama’s pick for deputy attorney general made it through committee on a vote of 14-5.  Next stop is the Senate Floor.  Senators have good reason to vote against him – several, actually.
 
He is one of the porn industry’s favorite hired guns.  XBiz, a leading “adult” newswire, has called Ogden a “strong pick,” and porn attorney Colin Hardacre of Los Angeles said Ogden’s nomination is “a good sign for the adult industry.”  That’s reason enough to vote against putting Ogden in charge of prosecuting the nation’s obscenity and child pornography laws. 
 
He’s gone to bat numerous times for the homosexual lobby, and not just in court; Ogden has argued in an op-ed that homosexuals should be given the same special status under the law that racial minorities possess in race discrimination cases.  The Supreme Court has not been willing to make that leap, yet Ogden pushes for it.
 
He’s also a favorite of the abortion industry, representing abortion clinics in court against pro-life protestors and even fighting for the right of clinics to give secret abortions to underage girls.  And it is here where Ogden shows himself most clearly out of step with the American people.
 
Whatever one’s views on the underlying question of legality, most people agree that parents should be notified before an abortion is done on their minor daughters.  And for good reason.  Minors are usually too immature to assess the safety of abortion clinics or the alternatives to abortion, or even to recall their own medical history.  If something should go medically wrong, parents should not be the last to know.
 
This just makes sense.  Children cannot receive an aspirin from the school nurse without their parents’ consent, and just last week the Maryland House voted unanimously to approve a new law to require parental consent for tattoos and body piercings done on minors.  Many states have such laws.
 
Yet in a brief he co-authored for the highly politicized American Psychological Association, David Ogden argued that “there is no qualitative or quantitative difference” between 14-year-olds and adults with regard to the “ability to think of options and consequences” in “treatment-related decisions.” 
 
Really?  What 14-year-old is he talking about?  And “treatment-related decision” is quite a crafty attempt to diminish the fact that the subject here is invasive surgery that results in the death of an unborn child.  
 
Parental notification for abortion laws recognizes what the law has always recognized about children – that they possess a diminished capacity for reasoned judgment and for understanding and appreciating the full consequences of their choices.  That is why children may not make certain financial transactions, binding contractual agreements, or a valid will.  There are a whole host of circumstances in which children are required to act under parental supervision.
 
“The decision to abort is one that a reasonable person … could make,” Ogden wrote.  Maybe. But Ogden is arguing that 14-year-olds are reasonable people and that their parents have no place in the equation, legally speaking.  This argument is flawed on a number of levels.
 
The proposition is simple:  No one should be able to perform surgery on your minor child without your consent, or without at least notifying you. 
 
Ogden disagrees, which puts him out of the mainstream of American thought.  He should not be confirmed as deputy attorney general. 
 
 
Cathy Ruse is senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council.