Commentary Magazine


Topic: body piercings

The Liberal Mind and Parental Consent: New York State Edition

The State of New York wants to you be a better parent, and they’re legislating to make sure you know it. The state legislature is well-meaning, and also apparently has a bit too much time on its hands judging by several laws passed this early summer to make parenting teens a little bit easier.

The first law out of the legislature requires tattoo and body piercing parlors to obtain the written consent of parents before inking or piercing their children. The authors of the legislation explained:

Millions of teenagers get pierced each year and many experience adverse health effects from these piercings without their parents’ knowledge. The needles used can sometimes result in a severe viral infection and immense discomfort. It is important that parents understand these potential risks and that teens are proactive in retaining their parents’ or guardian’s consent to have such piercing done.

While many parlors already required written consent before working with a minor, this law, effective immediately, has now mandated it. Parental consent is not only suggested, but also now required before teenagers permanently mutilate themselves in New York State.

A second bill recently passed by the New York State legislature is also designed to protect your teenager from him or herself. It is now illegal for a youth 16 years of age or younger to enter a tanning booth, even with parental consent. The legislators who sponsored this bill wrote:

Advocates and professionals agree that excessive tanning, popularized by indoor tanning salons, has led to an increase in skin cancer and our youth are at the greatest risk. According to the American Cancer Society, the popularity of tanning salons has led to a 72 percent jump in incidences of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, from 1998 to 2008.

It appears that the New York State legislature believes that before a teen makes a life-altering and potentially dangerous decision regarding their bodies, they must first consult their parents or the state. Well, except in one area. New York teens are not required to request permission, or even inform, their parents of an abortion before or after obtaining it; at age 12 or 17, there is no distinction.

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The State of New York wants to you be a better parent, and they’re legislating to make sure you know it. The state legislature is well-meaning, and also apparently has a bit too much time on its hands judging by several laws passed this early summer to make parenting teens a little bit easier.

The first law out of the legislature requires tattoo and body piercing parlors to obtain the written consent of parents before inking or piercing their children. The authors of the legislation explained:

Millions of teenagers get pierced each year and many experience adverse health effects from these piercings without their parents’ knowledge. The needles used can sometimes result in a severe viral infection and immense discomfort. It is important that parents understand these potential risks and that teens are proactive in retaining their parents’ or guardian’s consent to have such piercing done.

While many parlors already required written consent before working with a minor, this law, effective immediately, has now mandated it. Parental consent is not only suggested, but also now required before teenagers permanently mutilate themselves in New York State.

A second bill recently passed by the New York State legislature is also designed to protect your teenager from him or herself. It is now illegal for a youth 16 years of age or younger to enter a tanning booth, even with parental consent. The legislators who sponsored this bill wrote:

Advocates and professionals agree that excessive tanning, popularized by indoor tanning salons, has led to an increase in skin cancer and our youth are at the greatest risk. According to the American Cancer Society, the popularity of tanning salons has led to a 72 percent jump in incidences of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, from 1998 to 2008.

It appears that the New York State legislature believes that before a teen makes a life-altering and potentially dangerous decision regarding their bodies, they must first consult their parents or the state. Well, except in one area. New York teens are not required to request permission, or even inform, their parents of an abortion before or after obtaining it; at age 12 or 17, there is no distinction.

Due to its permissive abortion laws, New York is the abortion capital of America (one out of ten abortions nationwide occur in the state), and New York Magazine reported in 2005: 

In absolute terms, there are more abortions performed on minors, more repeat abortions, and more late abortions (over 21 weeks) in New York City than anywhere else in the country. In parts of the city, the ratio of abortions to births is one to one.

Abortion is a medical procedure, and is certainly more invasive and carries more immediate risks than tattooing, piercing or artificial tanning. One would think the New York State legislature would see the mixed messages it sends parents, on the one hand mandating their approval in decisions regarding their children’s physical well-being, and on the other advocating for a child’s right to “privacy” above all else. This liberal double standard regarding abortion, however, will continue to go unnoticed by an equally liberal press and electorate.

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