Thirty-seven states now require teens seeking abortions to notify their parents. Some require written parental consent, or even force parents to go with a daughter to her abortion. Anti-choice activists say these laws foster family communication. They insist parental consent legislation is about family values. The research suggests otherwise. In states with parental consent laws, girls are more likely to seek second trimester abortions. There’s also no evidence that parental notification encourages parents to support their daughters. It does decrease access to abortion. That means more teen mothers, and more girls forced into pregnancies they don’t want. It’s possible to legally get an abortion without parental consent, even if you live in a state with parental notification laws. Here are your best options.
Know the Laws in Your State
Not all states with parental notification laws require a parent’s permission for abortion. In many states, the law only requires a parent to know about the abortion. Before seeking an abortion without parental consent, you must know the specific rules in your state. In some states, it may be illegal to ask someone to drive you to another state for an abortion. In others, it’s possible to get consent from another adult in your family. Here’s a good primer on state parental consent laws.
Talk to an Abortion Provider
Abortion providers have been on the front lines of the fight for choice for more than four decades. Your local abortion provider is an excellent resource for information about local laws, as well as options for getting a safe and legal abortion without parental consent. They may have a list of low-cost attorneys, child advocates, and other experts who can help. Our list of abortion clinics by state can help you find a provider in your area.
Go to Another State
If a neighboring state offers abortions to minors without parental consent, the safest option may be to seek an abortion there. If you’re considering doing this, you should do it quickly. A second trimester abortion is more expensive, and may require two appointments. It’s also important to know that it might not be legal for another adult to drive you to an abortion. Some states make it a crime to drive a minor across state lines to have an abortion. So check state laws before seeking help. Then make sure you have an appointment at a reputable abortion clinic, and a clear plan for safely getting there.
Get Help From Another Adult
In some states, another adult–such as a grandparent or legal guardian–can authorize an abortion. If you can’t rely on your parents, talk to another adult you trust. Even if another adult can’t help you get an abortion, they may be able to help you find resources that make the process less scary.
Seek a Judicial Bypass to Get an Abortion Without Parental Consent
If you don’t feel safe asking your parents for help, you might be eligible for a judicial bypass. This is when a judge authorizes your abortion. These proceedings are usually confidential, but you’ll need a lawyer to help you file the paperwork. The legal system moves slowly, so it’s important to seek legal help as quickly as possible. The National Women’s Law Center and National Advocates for Pregnant Women may be able to help. Local organizations can also be a valuable resource. Consider contacting your local abortion clinic for a list of helpful attorneys.
It can be demoralizing and frightening to try to seek an abortion without parental consent. Don’t be deterred. It’s your body and you own it. The longer you wait, the more difficult it may become, since late-term abortions are more expensive and harder to get.