Introduction: The Conflict.The idea that parents should be closely involved in a teenager's decision regarding whether to have an abortion strikes a responsive chord in most American adults. Indeed, opinion polls indicate that large majorities of the public approve of laws requiring parental involvement in such a decision. (1) Parental involvement statutes either require that parents give their consent before their daughter can obtain an abortion or stipulate stip·u·late 1
v. stip·u·lat·ed, stip·u·lat·ing, stip·u·lates
a. To lay down as a condition of an agreement; require by contract.
b. that parents be informed before the procedure that their daughter has decided to terminate an unwanted pregnancy unwanted pregnancy Obstetrics A pregnancy that is not desired by one or both biologic parents. See Teen pregnancy. .
The reasons for the widespread public approval of parental involvement laws have not been fully examined, but they are not hard to understand. They likely are based on rather common assumptions: that parents have a right to guide and protect their child, and will usually act in their child's best interests; and that a teenager needs her parents' guidance and support as she moves through the turbulent years of adolescence, especially if she is faced with a stressful event like an unwanted pregnancy. (2) Some parents may also believe that their legal and financial responsibility for their child legitimately gives them the right to a certain degree of control over their child's actions, especially in such an important area of behavior as sexual activity and childbearing.
Since 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion, (3) the question of whether states should mandate parental involvement in a minor's decision to terminate a pregnancy has been the subject of intense public debate. Hundreds of proposals to require parental consent or notification have been introduced in state legislatures throughout the country; of these proposals, 67 have become law in 31 states (although the courts have subsequently struck down most of these statutes, holding them to be unconstitutional). (4) On the other hand, since 1989, legislatures in at least 16 states have either defeated or failed to take action on proposals to require parental involvement in the abortion decision. (5) Moreover, the only time the issue of mandatory parental involvement was put directly before the voters--in a 1990 referendum on parental notification in Oregon--it was rejected.
To shed light on the continuing debate over whether states should require parents to be involved in their daughter's decision about abortion. The Alan Guttmacher Alan Frank Guttmacher (1898-1974) was an American physician.
He served as president of Planned Parenthood and vice-president of the American Eugenics Society, founded the Association for the Study of Abortion in 1964, was a member of the Association for Voluntary Institute (AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) A machine intelligence that resembles that of a human being. Considered impossible by many, most artificial intelligence (AI) research, projects and products deal with specific applications such as industrial robots, playing chess, ) has examined state laws that relate to the ability of adolescents to make their own decisions about abortion and other issues. The examination sought to answer questions in three areas:
* To what extent can a minor, without a parent's consent or knowledge, obtain medical care for pregnancy, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases Sexually transmitted diseases
Infections that are acquired and transmitted by sexual contact. Although virtually any infection may be transmitted during intimate contact, the term sexually transmitted disease is restricted to conditions that are largely (STDs) and other sensitive health problems?
* Can a minor, without the involvement of her parents, make independent decisions in other important areas of her life, such as the decision to drop out of school before the 12th grade, the decision to get married and, if she already has a child of her own, decisions about whether to authorize medical care for that child and whether to raise the child herself or place it for adoption?
* Do states treat a minor's decision regarding abortion differently from other decisions? If so, do public policy concerns justify the differential treatment?
The focus of the review was not whether laws should deny or encourage abortion, but how potentially conflicting yet equally legitimate concerns should be balanced: the concern that before making the abortion decision, a pregnant minor should receive thorough counseling about all her options from at least one supportive and knowledgeable adult; the concern that states should not inappropriately deny parents the responsibility for guiding and supporting their child; and the concern that a young woman should be protected from both the medical dangers of delayed abortion and the family conflict that can arise if a teenager is required to inform her parents that she is not only sexually active but also pregnant and wanting to terminate her pregnancy.
In this report, we begin with a brief history of how the law has traditionally viewed minors, and a summary of key Supreme Court decisions pertaining per·tain
intr.v. per·tained, per·tain·ing, per·tains
1. To have reference; relate: evidence that pertains to the accident.
2. to parental involvement for abortion. We then describe the major findings of the AGI review of state laws and, on the basis of the findings, discuss whether mandatory parental involvement for abortion constitutes good public policy. In the conclusion, we explore some approaches to the parental involvement issue that might promote the best interests of minors who are facing decisions about abortion and other sensitive areas of their lives.
(1.) The Gallup Organization, Abortion and Moral Beliefs: A Survey of American Opinion, Americans United for Life, Washington D.C., February 28, 1991; NBC News NBC News (along with NBC News + HD) is the news division of American television network NBC, a part of NBC Universal, which is majority-owned by General Electric. Its current president is Steve Capus. It is the top-rated broadcast news division and has been for a decade. , "Poll Results," press release no. 171 (NBC/Wall Street Journal poll), July 20, 1990, p. 11; and New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times/CBS poll, Sept. 1989.
(2.) J. O'Keeffe and J. M. Jones, "Easing Restrictions on Minors' Abortion Rights," Issues in Science and Technology, Fall 1990, p. 74; and E. L. Worthington, Jr. et al., "The Benefits of Legislation Requiring Parental Involvement Prior to Adolescent Abortion," American Psychologist, Dec. 1989, p. 1542.
(3.) Roe v. Wade Roe v. Wade, case decided in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Along with Doe v. Bolton, this decision legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. , 410 U.S. 113 (1973).
(4.) The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), "An Analysis of State Laws Mandating Parental Involvement or Counseling for Abortion for Minors," Washington, D.C., Aug. 22, 1991 (memorandum).
(5.) AGI, State Reproductive Health Within the framework of WHO's definition of health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, reproductive health, or sexual health/hygiene Monitor: Legislative Proposals and Actions, Vol. 2, No. 3, 1991, Washington D.C., pp. 15-19;--State Reproductive Health Monitor: Legislative Proposals and Actions, Vol. 1, No. 4, 1990, pp. 19-26; and AGI, State Legislative Record; 1989 Fertility-Related Bills and Laws, 4:12, 1989, Washington, D.C.