Minors Express Mainly Negative Opinions about Parental Notification Laws

In Abortion-Seeking Minors’ Views on the Illinois Parental Notification Law: A Qualitative Study, published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, author Erin K. Kavanagh and other researchers from the Section of Family Planning and Contraceptive research analyze abortion-seeking minors’ thoughts on mandatory parental involvement laws and the potential impact such a law might have on a minor’s decision and level of access to abortion services. 

In-depth interviews were conducted with 30 minors presenting for an abortion at one of three Chicago-area clinics in 2010. Interviewers described the Illinois parental notification law (which was passed in 1995 but is not in effect because of legal challenges) and a corresponding judicial bypass option to the minors and asked their opinions about them. Interviews were coded and analyzed using content analysis and grounded theory methods.

The participants believed this law would diminish minors’ reproductive autonomy and potentially expose them to unwanted pressure or interference in their abortion decision. At the same time, many felt that voluntarily seeking support from a trusted adult, but not necessarily a parent, could benefit minors. The authors suggest that policymakers might better understand the impact of parental notification laws on minors’ ability to make reproductive health decisions if teens’ voices were heard in the debates concerning these laws and question whether parental notification laws best serve the reproductive well-being of minors.

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