Abortion rights generally refer to a person’s ability under law to receive an abortion. These laws may vary by state and therefore are not the same in every area. Abortion rights typically cover concerns and issues such as:

  • Age limits for obtaining an abortion;
  • Whether or not the parent needs to be contacted; and
  • Various other legal issues (like whether the father must be notified).

Abortion rights are also subject to frequent change. Thus, any questions, legal concerns, or disputes involving an abortion may likely require the assistance of a lawyer, who can explain a person’s rights under the particular laws of that state or area.

Can I Get an Abortion If I Am a Minor?

If you are a pregnant minor considering abortion, there are important options for you to consider with regards to your ability to obtain the procedure. These should be considered regardless of whether you are having the procedure with or without notifying your parents.

Generally speaking, there are three basic requirements about notifying your parents:

  1. The minor must at least inform one of their parents about the intention of getting an abortion procedure;
  2. Some states require one parent to give informed consent allowing the abortion to proceed; or
  3. If no parents consent, then a minor may be able to get a judicial bypass from the court under some circumstances.

In some states, a minor is generally excused from involving a parent and without going to a judge. This can happen for instance if the minor is a victim of abuse or neglect and the minor or the minor’s doctor reports this to proper authorities. If the minor is facing a medical emergency and requires an immediate abortion, then some states allow an abortion without permission or consent from the parents.

Can I Obtain an Abortion without My Parents’ Consent?

The answer to this also varies from state to state, as each state has different laws. A few states, including California, allow minors (people under 18) to obtain an abortion without parental consent or notification. However, most states do require parental consent, or alternatively, notification or permission from a judge (known as a “judicial bypass”).

It may be possible to go to another state where you do not live to get an abortion. However, due to laws about minors crossing state lines, you might want to consider traveling with an older sibling, grandparent, or other family member.

How Can I Obtain a Judicial Bypass for an Abortion?

To obtain a judicial bypass, the minor must file a specific application with a state court. The judge will consider a variety of factors involved in the situation, including:

  • Whether the minor has given informed consent to an abortion;
  • Is the minor mature;
  • Is the minor emancipated; and 
  • Is the abortion in the best interests of the minor

The court must hear the petition case within a reasonably short time, usually three or four days. If the petition is denied, you have the right to appeal your petition. The court must then reconsider your petition within a reasonably short time as well.

Can My Parents Force Me to Get an Abortion?

Minor females have a constitutional right to make their own decisions on reproductive choices that involve them. The U.S. Constitution gives women the right to choose whether they want an abortion, and this also applies to women minors. The decision is hers alone, and no parent can force a teen to have an abortion. 

The decision to have an abortion must always be voluntary and independent. A parent who tries to coerce a daughter to have an abortion may also face legal charges for child abuse, battery or other violations.

In addition, parents of pregnant teenagers also cannot force them into placing a child up for adoption. The only exception to this rule is if the pregnant teen’s life is in danger due to a medical emergency or risk of medical harm, like in the case where the minor’s life is at risk if the pregnancy is continued. In such a case, the teen’s parents may have the right to permit an abortion against the teenager’s wishes.

What If I Cannot Afford an Abortion?

The cost of abortion usually depends on the stage of pregnancy and which trimester the minor is in. If a minor cannot afford an abortion, it is possible in some cases for the minor to get governmental assistance to cover the cost. Many insurance plans also cover abortions as a medical necessity, though this may depend on the individual plan and the company.

Does the Father Have Any Say in My Decision Regarding an Abortion?

The father generally has no legal say in the decision-making process. The decision is usually completely up to the pregnant teenager. The father’s consent is unnecessary and he also has no legal right to be notified. However an unmarried father may be responsible for future child support and other obligations. 

Should I Contact an Attorney for Help with Abortion Rights?

Generally speaking, you are not requiredto consult an attorney to have an abortion, and you do not need a family law attorney to get judicial bypass. If you have to go to court, however, having an attorney can be very helpful and make the process easier. An attorney may also help you communicate more effectively with the judge and can provide advice if you have questions or need guidance on any matters.