Last updated on: 6/6/2008 10:55:00 AM PST
Do Mandatory Parental Involvement Laws Infringe on Minors' Rights and Endanger Their Health?
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in its Apr. 1, 2001 press release titled "Laws Restricting Teenagers' Access to Abortion," stated:
"There is no evidence that mandating parental involvement actually increases the rate at which teens tell their parents about their pregnancies and planned abortions...
In addition, because mandating parental involvement in a teen's abortion decision can prevent teens from getting the abortions they want, it can lead to teens suffering the physical, emotional, educational, economic, and social costs of teenage childbearing...
[N]o state requires a young woman to obtain parental consent for prenatal care and delivery services; no state requires parents to be notified of their daughter's positive pregnancy test; all but five states allow a minor to place her child for adoption without parental involvement... It is only if the teen chooses to have an abortion that states seek to require parental involvement.
[F]orcing young women who cannot turn to their parents to go to court and to reveal the details of their private lives to strangers causes them extraordinary fear, anxiety, and shame... In addition, going to court and waiting for a decision from a judge can cause substantial delays. These delays not only increase the risk of the procedure, but, because the price of an abortion goes up substantially and fewer physicians provide the service as the pregnancy advances, the delay makes an abortion unobtainable for some teens."
Apr. 1, 2001 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated in its Mar. 3, 2005 press release titled "As House Convenes Hearings, ACLU says Teen Endangerment Act Puts Vulnerable Lives at Risk, Undercuts Private Family Decisions":
"The 'Teen Endangerment Act' (H.R. 748), called the 'Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act' [CIANA] by its sponsors, requires young women who need an abortion in a state other than their home state to notify their parents. It contains no exception for when an abortion may be necessary to protect a teen's health. And it requires a 24-hour waiting period and written notification even if a parent accompanies his or her daughter to an out-of-state abortion provider...
The bill would also make it a crime for a person other than a parent - including a grandmother, aunt, sibling, or clergy member - to help a teen cross certain state lines for an abortion unless the teen had already fulfilled her home state's teen abortion restriction. The Act creates a tangled web of parental notification mandates throughout the country, imposing extra hurdles on some teens and leaving others with no viable options, even those who cannot safely turn to a parent."
Mar. 3, 2005 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
The American Psychological Association (APA), in its Feb. 2000 paper titled "Parental Consent Law for Adolescent Reproductive Health Care - What Does the Psychological Research Say?" stated:
"[D]isproportionate number of young adolescents who become pregnant live in severely unstable families... Thus, adolescents most at risk for pregnancy are also those most likely to come from violent and/or chaotic homes where they may not be able to seek guidance from their parents. Moreover, nearly half of pregnant adolescents with a history of physical assault report being hit during their pregnancy, most often by a family member... These at-risk teens may suffer the most from mandatory parental consent laws, because they are confronted with having to seek permission from an abusive parent or are forced to delay medical care until they obtain a judicial bypass. Alternatively, these teens may choose to become young parents or may seek dangerous, extralegal methods of abortion."
Feb. 2000 - American Psychological Association (APA)
Jessica Bertuglia, JD, wrote in the Summer/Fall 2001 issue of Womens' Rights Law Reporter an article titled "Preserving the Right to Choose: a Minor's Right to Confidential Reproductive Health Care":
"An equally important, more current threat, especially to minors' reproductive rights, appears in 'parental rights' legislation. Proposed at both state and federal levels, such legislation severely limits minors' access to abortion services by requiring parental notification or consent where no such requirement is presently required. Not only does this interfere with the minor's right to privacy, but it also gives parents a way to challenge the very existence of programs that they perceive as conflicting with their personal values. So even though the right to choose was recognized some twenty years ago, states have been permitted to restrict a minor's ability to access abortion services through parental consent and notification laws."
Summer-Fall 2001 - Jessica Bertuglia, JD
Focus on the Family compiled a document, updated on May 21, 2004, titled "Frequently Asked Questions: Parental Involvement in Minor Abortions," that stated:
"[Parental involvement (notification or consent) laws]...
- ensure parental rights... Parents are responsible for paying the medical bills incurred with any complications following the abortion. Therefore, they should be informed of the abortion decision...
- Parental involvement laws decrease the risk of medical complications connected with the abortion by allowing parents to provide important medical information and history their daughter may not know or provide.
- Parental involvement increases the likelihood the teenager will receive the needed follow-up care after the abortion...
- The judicial bypass or waiver provision generally included in these laws takes the possibilities [of physical danger from angry parents, and pregnancy due to rape or incest] into account. Abusive parents face the threat of criminal penalties, regardless of why they are angry with their child. The waiver component actually provides additional protection for the minor child, as it requires the notification of the appropriate authorities if the girl alleges abuse, either physical or sexual. Without this law, girls who are the victim of incest will have 'secret abortions' and then return to the same home environment, risking continued abuse...
- These [laws] do not limit a teenage girl's access to abortion; they merely require a parent to at least be notified before the fact."
May 21, 2004 - Focus on the Family
Concerned Women for America's (CWA) senior policy director, Wendy Wright, stated in a Feb. 9, 2005 press release titled "CWA Urges Support for Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act" that:
"The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act affirms that not only do parents have a right to be informed about their minor daughter's decision to abort her baby, but parental involvement is in the girl's best interest...
Abortion clinics place advertisements for their services in neighboring states that have parental notification requirements, indicating 'no parental notification required.' This reveals a conscious effort by conniving adults to violate state laws and to interfere with a parent's ability to protect their daughter... Minor girls and parents should not have their God-given and state-recognized rights stripped away by devious adults who would whisk a girl out of state to end the life of her baby, and then dump her back on her doorstep for her parents to take care of the complications."
Feb. 9, 2005 - Concerned Women for America (CWA)
Family Research Council's (FRC) Director of Life and Women Issues, Pia Francesca de Solenni, PhD, wrote in her article titled "California Holds Tanning Salons to Higher Standards Than Abortionists" posted on FRC's website (accessed Mar. 13, 2006) that:
"Despite the fact that parents generally have the best interests of their children in mind and they are legally liable for any costs or complications resulting from their minor daughter's abortion, [in California] a minor under the age of 14 cannot use a tanning bed under any circumstance, but she can have an abortion without telling her parents...
Parents have a right to know when their children are undergoing a serious medical intervention. In such cases, they usually want to find the best medical attention because they want the best for their child. Not only do they have the right, but state law will hold them responsible for their daughter's medical care if she has any complications that result from the abortion. The law recognizes the general principle that parents ought to care for their children. But it doesn't apply it to the specific case of abortion, not even when parents want to protect their children from sexual predators...
Laws which do not require the bare minimum of parental notification simply enable sexual predators and allow for the abuse of minor girls... [I]t's easier to keep the problem hidden rather than to deal with the reality that many young girls are involved in sexual relationships that are not only unhealthy, but illegal. As long as the pregnancy doesn't come to term, we can pretend that everything's fine."
Mar. 13, 2006 - Family Research Council