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ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) -- A California law recently went into effect that bans minors, defined as anyone under the age of 18, from using a tanning bed. The prohibition is absolute and there is no provision for parental permission.
Lawmakers say the tan ban is necessary in order to protect the health and well-being of young people. California is the only state thus far to have a complete ban on tanning for minors. Other states allow the practice with a parent's permission.
The Golden State has other laws intended to safeguard the health of young people.
If you are under 18 in California, you are forbidden from getting a tattoo. Like the tan ban, the law is absolute. A minor cannot get inked even with a parent's permission.
A person under 18 can get his or her ear or ears pierced; however, piercing any other body part will require a parent's approval. A minor is also allowed to take an aspirin at school but only with a parent's permission.
For the record, I've no problem with laws that require parental permission for practices or procedures that could have negative health repercussions or life-long consequences for a minor.
It is clear that lawmakers in California believe that some practices are so unhealthy that they will not even allow parents the option of allowing their children to take part. However, there is one glaring exception -- abortion.
California allows a girl under the age of 18 to obtain an abortion without her parents' permission -- and without even notifying them. Additionally, the facility that provides the abortion is forbidden by law from informing the parents about the abortion.
It should be noted that California voters have repeatedly rejected ballot initiatives that would have required parental notification for a minor seeking an abortion.
A 14-year-old girl can obtain an abortion in California and her parents have absolutely no knowledge of the situation -- and Californians believe it is acceptable.
While California gives carte blanche to minors when it comes to abortion, they believe tanning, tattoos and other practices or so risky for teens they must be strictly regulated. There seems to be way too much medical marijuana being inhaled in California these days.
Abortion carries with it some very serious consequences, both physical and psychological. Among the physical complications are: hemorrhaging, infection, damage to organs and even death.
Some studies suggest that induced abortions amplify the risk of future premature deliveries. Premature birth increases the possibility of variety of health risks for the baby.
Additionally, a debate continues over a possible link between abortion and breast cancer. Though the issue remains controversial, a number of studies have demonstrated a connection between abortion and a later development of breast cancer.
Psychological complications have also been cited by women who have experienced abortion. The mainstream British Journal of Psychiatry published a study this year showing that women who have undergone an abortion have an 81 percent higher risk for mental health problems and are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse alcohol and suffer depression. It examined 22 studies from 1995-2009 involving 877,000 women, including 163,000 who had experienced an abortion
California says it regulates certain practices because it wants to ensure the health and well-being of minors. However, the state allows teenagers unlimited and unfettered access to a serious medical procedure that is fraught with a variety of potential problems. I can only shake my head in disbelief.
Safety is one of the reasons pro-abortion activists give for their vehement insistence that abortion have absolutely no restrictions. They contend that any limitations will create a black market, and abortions will be performed in unsanitary conditions.
Activists argue that if abortions are not legal in every instance -- and in the case of California teens, secretive -- then young women will seek so-called "back-alley" abortions. Even worse, the girls might even try to self-induce abortions.
I wonder why the same concerns over abortion are not applied to tanning beds or tattoos in California. After-all, isn't there a concern that the absolute prohibition will create a black market for both?
Imagine the sunburns and skin damage that will occur in an illegal tanning salon. What about the unsanitary conditions of a back-alley tattoo parlor? Worse yet, what about teens who try to ink themselves?
If California is really concerned about the health of teenagers, it would start by banning a minor's ability to access abortion.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.