Minors and Judicial BypassEveryone agrees that loving parents should be involved when a young woman faces an unintended pregnancy. And every parent hopes that any young person confronting a crisis like that will seek the advice and counsel of those who care for her most and know her best. However, current Massachusetts law requires a pregnant woman under 18 to obtain parental consent or a court order (judicial bypass) for an abortion.
Most young women do turn to their parents when considering an abortion – but for those who do not or cannot, court involvement is not necessarily a better alternative. In practice, Massachusetts’ parental consent law is a complicated, burdensome mandate that fails to protect young women and can, in fact, pose added risks to their health and well-being.
The nation’s leading medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, oppose parental consent laws because they impose barriers to care that can actually harm the young women they are meant to protect. This kind of mandate can increase the threat of violence in the home and expose a young woman to the health risks associated with delayed medical care and unwanted childbirth. They may also cause her to leave the state for the health services she needs or take more drastic measures, such as attempting self-induced abortion or suicide.
Young women need more responsible adults available to them in times of need, not a state mandate that cuts off their options. Legislators should revamp the current mandate that restricts counseling options in order to better support young women for whom abortion may be the most appropriate option.
Improving Abortion Access for Minors
An Act to Ensure Teen Safety, An Act Safeguarding the Healthcare Decisions of Young Adults, and An Act to Improve the Safety of Young Women address the dangerous law requiring women under the age of 18 to get parental consent for abortion care and would ensure young women receive timely access to the medical resources they need.
To learn more, email Rebecca Hart Holder, Execuitve Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.