At the feministing community blog, an author "rmanning" has an infuriating post about her difficulty obtaining a hysterectomy as a woman under the age of 21, even though she's got UTERINE CANCER. It just goes to show that regulating reproductive health decisions tends to be a "one-size-fits-many" thing that leaves some people totally screwed.
I thought it was kind of precious when Andrew Sullivan was astounded that people have late-term abortions for REASONS. He seemed to think he was the only person to ever figure this out. And he's thinking of compiling stories into a book! Never mind how exploitative it is for an outspoken anti-choice pundit to use other people's tragedies to publicly congratulte himself for being able to change his mind. Also, the book has been written many times.
I used to be a little apathetic about reproductive health regulations, but the bizarre and horrible things that can happen to people continually amaze me and have made it clear that such regulation can't be enacted humanely. rmanning mentions text in state law that explicitly says that doctors shouldn't perform hysterectomies on women younger than 21 so they won't make decisions they will later regret. She prudently doesn't mention which state she's contending with, but I suspect that working through the specifics would reveal that the reluctant doctors are being hypersensitive about things that are really more guidelines than laws. And anyway, how could an effort to preserve fertility apply to her killer uterus? I'm no doctor, but it's kind of hard to conceive when you've died of an operable and treatable cancer.
I'm sure that if she was 9, she could get this operation. But it's squickier to the doctors she's run into to yank reproductive organs out of a woman who is nearing what would otherwise be her childbearing years.
I was pretty well convinced that I wouldn't ever have kids when I was 18, 19 and 20, but it turns out I've changed my mind in the interim.
I only say this to illustrate the fact that an 18-year-old can make decisions about her reproductive capacities that she will later regret. But that takes living to "later," which is the primary purpose of her medical care.