According to the 1973 court case Roe v. Wade, abortion was made legal throughout the United States. This case was reformed in 1975 by H.L. v. Matheson, which allowed states to decide requirements for minors. Since then, states have required either parental consent, advanced notification, or even no form of parental involvement for minors seeking abortions. As of today, twelve states in the US do not require any form of parental involvement. An article published in 2017 about parental consent stated that in 2013, ”..teenagers between the ages of fifteen and nineteen accounted for 11.4% of all abortions performed in the United States..” (Abortion: Parental Consent). Women, especially teen girls, struggle to undergo an abortion if their state does not allow it and they will go to many different extents to get it. The opposing side claims minor abortions are putting teens and families in dangerous situations, mentally and physically. At first, teens may feel relieved that the procedure is over but months later they may feel a sense of guilt and loneliness. Although abortions are dangerous, minors should not need parental consent because of the potential negative effects on families and the danger of unsafe abortions.
The controversy of the court case, Roe v. Wade, which issued the constitutionality of laws that prohibited abortions throughout the US, started in 1973 and continues to this day. Since the Supreme court started this controversy, it also means that they can end it. With Brett Kavanaugh in the house, Roe v. Wade could be overturned which would lead to states individually deciding the legality and accessibility of abortion in their states. As more conservatives entered the political arena in 2010, “more than 400 state laws have been passed to restrict abortion access in some way” and during a poll conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation, “67% of the US public does not want the case overturned” (Michelle Garcia). If the case is overturned many women will be in danger if they end up pregnant because they either can not take care of the baby or do not want the responsibility. Thus, abortion rates have decreased over the years due to the availability of contraception and better knowledge of sex education. Therefore, if the case is overturned it could increase. There’s no point in abortion being legal if it's inaccessible. The benefit of abortion for minors is that they are able to continue their education and pursue their dreams without being responsible for another individual at a young age.
Adults believe teens act impulsively and do not think of the consequences. In some cases that is very true, but for significant situations they tend to put more thought into what could happen. Recent neuroscience research shows that “ adolescents may have stronger emotional responses to situations and are less likely to utilize their prefrontal cortex when making decisions.” (Miranda de Federico). This not only shows that adolescent brains are not fully developed for “heat of the moment” decisions, but it also shows that they should not be making them alone. However, teens are fully competent to consent to abortions. Although, as the minors handle the difficult decisions alone they may not realize all of the steps it takes to undergo an abortion. For example, the teens would use doctors that they don't know are certified or have proper sanitary supplies. Proper supplies would include a syringe with a spinal needle and a manual vacuum aspiration to be able to remove the fetus from the uterus. The aftermath of an uncertified doctor and unsanitary abortion can be very harmful to the teen. Also in most cases, minors who are under 18 years old need a parent's consent to take aspirin at school, attend a school field trip, or even get their ears pierced. In schools and at regular doctors' appointments, parents of teens fill out their medical information and sign off on any medications and procedures. So, therefore, why would these adolescents who are seeking abortions be informed enough of their medical information to be able to have the abortion performed safely without any complications? Not including parents in abortion decisions is dangerous for the health of the patient, but on the contrary, these teens may avoid their state's parental consent law and travel to another state to a different doctor where it may be even more unsafe.
Pregnancy at such a young age is a horrifying position to be in, especially if it was unintended and almost all teen pregnancies are unintended. Many girls who don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about becoming pregnant take many steps to get rid of it without their knowledge. For example, a way to get rid of pregnancy without an abortion is Plan B. Plan B is a morning-after pill that one takes to prevent the pregnancy before it starts. This method tends to be 95% effective if taken within 24 hours of having sex. Meanwhile, states in the U.S. have specific laws about minors’ abortions and these pregnant teens do their research to find states that do not require any consent for notification. Some girls even choose to go out of their state to find a clinic. According to a study published in The Lancet, “the median distance a woman has to travel to reach an abortion clinic is 11 miles,..... Women in large swaths of the United States are sometimes forced to travel hundreds of miles for an abortion” (Michelle Garcia). For example, in Kansas, the state requires both parents’ consent but allows a judicial bypass. While in New York there are no parental consent laws for minors' abortions at all. According to a graph from Child Trends, for New York in 2013 the abortion rate (per 1,000 females) for teens ages 15-19 was 10.6%. Although that is a large percentage that does not mean that the only patients receiving the abortion are New York residents. Surrounding states like Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania require consent, therefore these teens possibly travel to New York for their abortion, thus which would increase the percentage. Traveling out of state for an abortion leaves the patient at risk of a doctor who is not qualified and does not know what he or she is fully doing. These doctors possibly use unsanitary equipment and rooms to perform the procedure. An article from 2017 stated, “Medical professionals warn of potential health hazards caused by parental involvement laws” (Abortion: Parental Consent). For instance, women may feel urged to seek an illegal and possibly harmful abortion if they are affected by involvement laws. Some health hazards followed by abortion are pelvic infections, heavy bleeding or blood clots in the uterus, and even a tear/hole in the wall of the uterus. These hazards can lead to higher risks for future pregnancies. Girls should not feel pressure to go through a dangerous abortion just because they have to notify or involve their parents.
No parent ever imagines that his/her daughter will become pregnant at a young age, but mistakes happen. A loving adult can help her or his child throughout the process that they decide to choose, whether it be keeping the baby, putting it up for adoption, or aborting the baby. Realizing she is pregnant can be an exceptionally emotional time for the child as they are filled with confusion, grief, and shame. Teens tend to feel shame for not informing their parents that they are having sex because they may not have used protection which led to the outcome of becoming pregnant. This mental state can lead to depression if they are not accompanied by a parent during the rough time. Depression prompts the teen to be closed off towards her family, possibly relying on drugs and alcohol, and not being the sociable person they usually are. A mother who was unaware of her daughter’s abortion states, “Mandating parental consent for these abortions allows the support of family, protection and parental wisdom.” (Newhall). Parents and guardians will then be in control of what is happening with their daughter and her decision, as well as being able to guide her through the steps she wants to take. Although involving one's parent during the abortion could help the recovery of his/her daughter, many girls have specific reasons that could affect their families if their parent was involved.
Despite the fact that the court case H.L. v. Matheson allows states to require consent or notification, constitutionally minors have a right to privacy. Dr. Newhall, a doctor who executes abortions, is well-versed in the effects minor concerns themself with. Forcing anyone to do something he/she does not want to do is not okay and ”Teens who were forced to tell their parents didn’t succeed psychologically as smoothly” (Newhall). Everyone has specific reasons for not wanting to do or say something. Meanwhile, requiring consent or notification feels for a better parent-child relationship. A forum about parental notification stated, ”Dialogue between the child and parent is optimal but mandating it puts in the practice bad medicine” (Newhall,). Some girls are lucky enough to have understanding parents that they have a close relationship but others do not. All households are not safe and all parents are not kind-hearted and enforcing parental abortion laws can make these situations worse than they already are. Teen girls are concerned with the backlash they will encounter when their family and friends find out the truth about their pregnancy. When the parents of the patient are involved forcefully, the health of the minor may be negatively impacted by the parents' input. For example, “Family violence may increase, family communication will not be improved, and procedures will be delayed” (Newhall). Furthermore, Advocates for Youth said, “thirty percent of teens who do not tell their parents about their abortions feared violence or being forced to leave home” (Bridges). Many minors choose not to include their parents in seeking an abortion for practical reasons that could harm them even more. In the end, minors should not have to be forced to involve their parents in a situation they want to handle on their own.
After completing all the research on minors' abortions, I find myself on the no parental consent side. There are excessive statistics and evidence that support both sides and they both are more intriguing than the next. If Roe v. Wade is overturned and the states decide on involvement laws, minors may be in danger of risky abortion decisions. Adding parental involvement laws to each state will only put the health of the teen in a more troublesome situation.