Parental Consent and Notification Laws Affecting Teens

By OBOS Abortion Contributors | March 25, 2014

If you are under age 18, you may be required to tell or get permission from one or both parents, or a guardian, before you can get an abortion.

As of February 2014, according to Guttmacher Institute, 38 states require parental involvement to some extent:

  • 21 states require parental consent only, three of which require both parents to consent.
  • 12 states require parental notification only, one of which requires that both parents be notified.
  • 5 states require both parental consent and notification.
  • 8 states require the parental consent documentation to be notarized.

Exceptions are allowed under certain circumstances:

  • 36 states permit a minor to obtain an abortion in a medical emergency.
  • 16 states permit a minor to obtain an abortion in cases of abuse, assault, incest or neglect.

To find out about the specific laws and policies where you live, take a look at this Guttmacher Institute chart showing where parental involvement is required; also check out this overview of consent law for abortion, as well as contraceptive and STI services and prenatal care.

Most pregnant teens do consult with their parents, either on their own initiative or when encouraged by an abortion provider. The Abortion Care Network offers guidance on how to talk to your parents about your pregnancy, and provides resources for exploring all your options (abortion, parenting or adoption). It also includes advice for parents.

Some teens, however, don’t feel safe telling a parent. If you have a parent who is abusive or so strongly opposed to abortion that you fear telling him or her, you have other options. Some states will allow a minor to obtain an abortion if a grandparent or other adult relative is involved in the decision.

Or, you can go through a process called judicial bypass, which allows minors to seek permission from a judge to get an abortion, rather than from one or two parents. Many abortion clinics can help you negotiate the free and confidential process of obtaining judicial bypass.