The Supreme Court has ruled that abortion is a protected constitutional right. Unfortunately, they have also chipped away at that right for minors. If you’re an adult, your parents cannot make you do or not do anything. But if you’re under the age of 18, you may need a parent’s permission to get an abortion. Here’s what you need to know about what your parents can and cannot force you into.
Can my parents stop me from getting an abortion?
Eleven states require parental notification for minors seeking an abortion, but do not require parental consent. Twenty-one require parental consent. If you live in one of these states, your parents can–in theory at least–stop you from getting an abortion. However, you have options.
A judicial bypass is a procedure through which a minor can get an abortion even without a parent’s permission. With a judicial bypass, you go before a judge in private, and explain why you should be allowed an abortion. The judge then has discretion to allow the procedure, but there is no guarantee that they will. In fact, some research shows that the judicial bypass process is inherently biased and abusive.
Can my parents force me to have an abortion?
Your parents can threaten you, punish you, and make your life miserable. They can make you feel as if you have no choice but to have an abortion. But they cannot physically force you to have one. No abortion clinic would perform an abortion on a minor against their will.
If your parents are threatening you, tell the abortion clinic. They can help you, connect you to resources, and refuse to perform the procedure on someone who does not consent. If your parent is attempting to compel an abortion to cover up sexual abuse, be sure to tell the abortion clinic this fact.
Help for minors seeking abortions
Advocates for Youth has a great guide to judicial bypass procedures for minors. They can also connect you to an attorney in your area who can provide additional help. If your parents are trying to force you to have an abortion or you are pregnant because of one parent’s sexual abuse, this is abuse and there is help. Tell a teacher or another adult you trust. If you do not get help from them, call the Childhelp National Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child.