Does Parental Notification Reduce Abortion?

Not really, a New York Times analysis has found:

For all the passions they generate, laws that require minors to notify their parents or get permission to have an abortion do not appear to have produced the sharp drop in teenage abortion rates that some advocates hoped for, an analysis by The New York Times shows.

Cathi Herrod said that getting parents involved in minors' medical decisions was reason enough for Arizona to pass an abortion consent law.

Jane Bovard, who runs an abortion clinic in North Dakota, said that many of the parents were urging their daughters to have abortions.

The analysis, which looked at six states that introduced parental involvement laws in the last decade and is believed to be the first study to include data from years after 1999, found instead a scattering of divergent trends.

For instance, in Tennessee, the abortion rate went down when a federal court suspended a parental consent requirement, then rose when the law went back into effect. In Texas, the rate fell after a notification law went into effect, but not as fast as it did in the years before the law. In Virginia, the rate barely moved when the state introduced a notification law in 1998, but fell after the requirement was changed to parental consent in 2003.

Since the United States Supreme Court recognized states' rights to restrict abortion in 1992, parental involvement legislation has been a cornerstone in the effort to reduce abortions. Such laws have been a focus of divisive election campaigns, long court battles and grass-roots activism, and are now in place in 34 states. Most Americans say they favor them.

"It's one of the few areas that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed states to legislate, so it's become a key for lowering the abortion rate," said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee. Ms. Balch said she believed that consent laws were effective.

Yet the Times analysis of the states that enacted laws from 1995 to 2004 — most of which had low abortion rates to begin with — found no evidence that the laws had a significant impact on the number of minors who got pregnant, or, once pregnant, the number who had abortions.

Previous Comments


Any analyst working for the New York Times is suspect. Has everyone already forgotten Jason Blair? Anyway, as far as I know, parental notification was NEVER touted as ending abortion or dropping the rate in any significant way. People (apparently most Americans) just think that a parent has a RIGHT to know. Should a woman's rights end when she has a daughter who is about to create a life?



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