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ABORTION: PARENTAL CONSENT ( Article is attached below}

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Abortion: Parental Consent

Date: Jan. 2, 2019

From: Gale

Opposing Viewpoints

Online Collection Publisher: Gale, a Cengage Company

Document Type: Topic overview Length: 1,869 words Content Level: (Level 5) Lexile Measure: 1510L Full Text:

Sexually active teenagers ages fifteen through nineteen have the highest rate of unintended pregnancy of any age demographic in the United States; however, the rates of teen pregnancy have been declining since the 1990s. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 750,000 women in this age group become pregnant each year. More than half of these pregnancies result in live births and a quarter end with an induced abortion, which refers to the intentional termination of a pregnancy. In 2015 this age group accounted for 9.8 percent of abortions performed in the United States, while girls under the age of fifteen accounted for 0.3 percent. In most states, minors encounter more difficulty obtaining an abortion than adults because of restrictions that require notifying and often obtaining the consent of their parents. As of December 2018, thirty-seven states have abortion laws in effect that require parental involvement in the decision-making process for minors seeking an abortion, while an additional six have such laws that are not in effect because they have either been temporarily or permanently halted by a court order. Twenty-six of these states require that at least one parent provide written or verbal consent, and eleven states require that one of the patient’s parents be notified. Five states have no laws related to parental involvement, while two states and the District of Columbia have legislation that asserts a minor’s right to consent to abortion services without parental notification or consent. Proponents of parental involvement laws contend that these requirements foster better parent-child relationships, protect the rights of the patient’s parents, improve sexual assault reporting, and deter young women from having abortions or becoming sexually active in the first place. Opponents argue that these laws place an unnecessary burden on the patient and violate her rights. Additionally, opponents point to evidence that most pregnant teenagers discuss their decision with a parent, indicating that those who choose not to might have a practical reason for keeping their situations private. In states that require parental consent, a pregnant adolescent may travel out of state to obtain an abortion, delay medical treatment, or pursue the procedure from an unlicensed source, all of which can increase threats to the patient’s health. Pros and Cons of Parental Involvement Laws Pros Requiring a minor to notify her parents or request an exemption from a judge when seeking an abortion ensures that she will discuss the decision with an adult before making an irreversible choice. Parental rights advocates support parental involvement laws because they ensure that parents are involved their children’s decisions and informed when their children undergo a major medical procedure. Pregnancies caused by sexual assault, including statutory rape, may go unreported if the victim is not required to notify her parents or request an exemption. Cons Parental involvement laws violate a minor’s right to privacy. Parents may refuse their consent, which would likely result in the minor giving birth to a child she is not prepared or able to parent. Some parents may inflict physical harm on their child or impose other unreasonable punishments after learning that she has become sexually active. Though independent judicial review is available for minors in such cases, the judge reviewing the case may be biased by his or her own views on abortion. Legislative Background In 1973 the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States but left many specifics open to interpretation, which resulted in several legal challenges. In Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth (1976), the court issued its first major ruling on parental involvement laws. The case involved a Missouri law that required, among other things, parental consent to obtain an abortion in all cases involving a minor. The Supreme Court determined this provision of the law to be unconstitutional because the provision did not include any exceptions for circumstances under which a patient could receive an abortion without parental consent, such as when the patient’s health is threatened. The court’s decision upheld the other provisions of the law. In Planned Parenthood Association of Kansas City, Missouri, Inc. v. Ashcroft (1983), the US Supreme Court reaffirmed the standard established by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that parental involvement laws must not withhold or otherwise infringe upon a minor’s right to independent judicial review in lieu of obtaining parental consent. A minor may be unable to obtain parental consent because both of her parents are dead, in jail, in a coma, or living out of state. Additionally, the minor may feel that her safety could be threatened if her parents were aware of her pregnancy. In this decision, the Supreme Court established that individual states may legally require minors to obtain parental consent for an abortion only if judicial review is available. In response to the Supreme Court’s decisions, each state approached parental involvement legislation in its own way. Understanding the differences from state to state can be challenging for both abortion providers and the minors seeking an abortion. Without uniformity in the law, minors with the means and ability to do so have been able to bypass their own state’s restrictions and travel to a state with more flexible regulations. For example, a minor living in Utah who is required both to notify and obtain permission from her parents to procure an abortion can travel several hours northwest to Oregon or Washington, which do not require any parental involvement. Congress has attempted to pass legislation that would prevent minors from circumventing state parental involvement laws. The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA) and the Child Custody Protection Act (CCPA) were first introduced in the House and the Senate in 1998 and have been revisited several times, including reintroductions of both bills by members of the 115th Congress (2017–2018). The bills seek to make the transportation of a minor across state lines to evade parental consent laws a federal crime. Despite repeated attempts by conservative lawmakers, no additional federal legislation has been enacted concerning parental involvement in a minor’s abortion decision. In 2018 the Supreme Court reviewed the decisions of lower courts in Azar v. Garza, a case involving the reproductive rights of undocumented unaccompanied minors. The circumstances involved a pregnant unidentified minor who had been detained by immigration officials upon entering the United States illegally. While in custody with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the minor requested an abortion but was denied until her attorney, who had been appointed her legal guardian during her immigration case, challenged the ORR’s policy of denying detainees access to abortion services. The US District Court for the District of Columbia granted the minor permission to leave the facility to procure an abortion. That decision was again challenged, resulting in the scheduling of another hearing. During the disagreements between the courts, the minor terminated her pregnancy in accordance with the district court’s initial ruling, thus rendering any ruling on the individual case inconsequential. After approving the case for review by granting certiorari, the Supreme Court vacated the lower court’s decision, meaning that its outcome cannot be used to establish legal precedent. Critical Thinking Questions Under what circumstances would a minor seek exemption from parental involvement laws through independent judicial review, and do you think states should be required to offer this exemption? Why do some medical professionals and reproductive rights advocates characterize parental involvement laws as a health threat? Do you think minors should be required to involve their parents or a judge in their decision to terminate a pregnancy? Why or why not? Impact of Parental Involvement Laws Proponents of parental involvement laws claim that more pregnant teenagers would choose not to have an abortion if they had the benefit of their parents’ guidance. They also maintain that parental consent laws discourage teenagers from becoming sexually active. Research shows, however, that state parental involvement laws have little effect on a minor’s decision to engage in sexual activity or pursue an abortion. Proponents also distinguish abortion from health care services such as providing contraceptive information, substance abuse treatment, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, which are covered under state and federal confidentiality laws, arguing that, in contrast, abortion carries specific health risks as a surgical procedure. Quantifying the impact of parental involvement laws presents many challenges because multiple factors contribute to changes in birth and abortion rates, including the availability of contraceptives and comprehensive sexual education. Inconsistencies in reporting data have also been identified. Conducting a review of twenty-nine separate studies on the effect of such laws, researchers from the Guttmacher Institute found that many studies had methodological limitations, including a lack of consistent data, as state reporting agencies maintain different record-keeping practices. The authors of the review concluded that the “clearest documented impact of parental involvement laws is an increase in the number of minors traveling outside their home states to obtain abortion services in states that do not mandate parental involvement or that have less restrictive laws.” Two studies—one in Mississippi and one in Massachusetts—noted incidents of minors leaving state borders to receive an abortion and showed no change in the abortion rate among teens compared to prior to the law. Several studies reported a decline in minors’ abortion rates after parental involvement laws were enacted. A study in Texas found that the number of abortions in the state had decreased with no evidence that young women had traveled to other states to obtain the procedure. The authors suggested that Texas’s large size deterred long-distance interstate travel. Though current research may not provide conclusive results, health care organizations consistently speak out against parental involvement laws. The American Academy of Family Physicians, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and American Public Health Association have all issued statements in opposition to these laws. Though the American Medical Association advises health care providers to encourage minor patients to discuss the procurement of confidential services with their parents, the organization stresses the importance of respecting the autonomy of the patient and acting in accordance with state law. Many medical professionals feel that minors should not be forced by law to involve their parents in decisions involving abortion or contraception. Medical professionals warn of potential health hazards caused by parental involvement laws. Parental involvement laws cause a delay in the patient’s ability to obtain the abortion, often resulting in a second-trimester abortion, which carries more risks than a firsttrimester abortion. Additionally, parental involvement laws may compel a young woman to pursue an illegal and possibly dangerous abortion. Doctors also recognize that the parents’ input may have a negative impact on the patient’s health, as the parents may respond violently when they learn that their child is sexually active, or they may force their daughter to carry the child to term. Though all parental involvement laws must allow an exception for judicial bypass, minors who do not want to inform their parents that they are seeking an abortion may also find it intimidating to secure consent from a judge. Many young people are unfamiliar with how to navigate the court system and may feel uncomfortable sharing personal details about their pregnancy with strangers. Additionally, reproductive rights activists allege that anti-abortion judges often delay rulings, ask intrusive personal questions, and can ultimately deny petitions for young women seeking judicial bypass.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2021

Gale, a Cengage Company

Source Citation (MLA 9th Edition) “Abortion: Parental Consent.” Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2018. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, link.gale.com/apps/doc/PC3021900129/OVIC?u=okccc_main&sid=bookmark-OVIC&xid=13309115. Accessed 5 Nov. 2021.

Gale Document Number: GALE|PC3021900129

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