|Abortion and Parental Involvement Laws|
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A Threat to Young Women’s Health and Safety
The majority of states – thirty-nine as of December 2013 – currently enforce laws that require a young woman to notify or obtain consent from one or both parents before she can receive abortion care. Yet research has shown that these laws often delay young women’s access, endangering young women’s health and safety and leaving too many alone and afraid. Ideally, any woman, including a young woman, who is faced with an unintended pregnancy can seek the advice of those who care for her. But for those who can't, those afraid to anger or disappoint, or who face the threat of violence in their homes—it is best for them to seek the advice of a trained medical professional than to facethe situation alone and afraid.
MOST STATES REQUIRE PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IN MINORS’ ABORTIONS
Parental involvement laws fall into two categories: those that require parental notification and those that require parental consent before a young person seeks abortion services. Parental notification laws require written notification to parents by a medical provider before a young person can receive abortion services. Parental consent laws require that a young person obtain consent by one or both parents before an abortion can be performed. The Supreme Court has ruled that states may not give parents absolute veto over their daughter’s decision to have an abortion. Most state parental involvement requirements include a judicial bypass procedure that requires a minor to receive court approval for an abortion without her parents’ knowledge or consent.
REQUIRING PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT LEAVES MANY YOUNG WOMEN ALONE AND AT RISK
MANY NEGATIVE OUTCOMES, FEW POSITIVE ONES
Judicial Bypass is not a reasonable Alternative
While judicial bypass is technically available in states which mandate parental involvement, there are powerful obstacles to young people attaining it. Many minors do not know judicial bypass is available or do not know how to get it; do not have access to transportation to travel to the necessary courts; or simply are denied bypass by resistant or biased judges. For instance, in 2013 the Nebraska Supreme Court denied an abortion to a young woman of 16, ruling that she was not “mature” enough to have an abortion. The young woman already had to navigate the court system, retain an attorney, and face delay while the courts decided her fate - and she still was told she must go through with the pregnancy.
MEDICAL EXPERTS OPPOSE PARENTAL CONSENT AND NOTIFICATION LAWS
Young people deserve the right to access the full range of reproductive and sexual health services they need, which includes abortion care. And right now, young people are at the forefront of the reproductive rights, health and justice movements. Activists must stand with them against the harmful parental involvement restrictions that can put their health and well being at risk. Yet few are fighting to abolish parental involvement laws; and even when pro-active abortion rights legislation is introduced, it rarely, if ever, addresses minors’ needs. Legislation which seeks to protect women’s access to abortion must include younger women and protect their access to safe, legal, and affordable abortion care.
 Guttmacher Institute. “State Policies in Brief: Minors’ Access to Contraceptive Services.” Accessed from http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_MACS.pdf on November 20, 2013.
 Dennis A et al., The Impact of Laws Requiring Parental Involvement for Abortion: A LiteratureReview, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2009.
Nebraska Supreme Court. In Re Petition of Anonymous 5, a Minor. Accessed from http://supremecourt.ne.gov/sites/supremecourt.ne.gov/files/sc/opinions/s13-510009.pdf on November 8, 2013.
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 Martin Donohoe, Parental Notification and Consent Laws for Teen Abortions: Overview and 2006 Ballot Measures MEDSCAPE Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health, February 9, 2007.
 Kost K, et al. U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: National Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity. Guttmacher Institute, 2013. Available from: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/USTPtrends08.pdf.
Davis AR, Beasley AD. Abortion in adolescents: epidemiology, confidentiality, and methods. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2009;21(5):390–3.
Carey v. Population Services International, 431 U.S. 678 (1977).
 American Medical Association. “Opinion 5.055 – Confidential Care for Minors.” Accessed from http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-ethics/code-medical-ethics/opinion5055.page on November 22, 2013. American Public Health Association. “Ensuring Minors’ Access to Confidential Abortion Services.” Accessed from http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1415 on November 8, 2013. American Academy of Pediatrics. “Achieving Quality Health Services for Adolescents.” Accessed from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/121/6/1263.full?sid=7322b383-0e96-4d24-a3ba-2914a99307bb on November 8, 2013. Center for Adolescent Medicine. Policy Compendium on Confidential Health Care Services for Adolescents, 2nd Edition. Accessed from http://www.cahl.org/PDFs/PolicyCompendium/PolicyCompendium.pdf on November 8, 2013