Adolescents have the right to confidential care when considering an abortion, and should receive timely access to medical care, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has reaffirmed its position in an updated policy statement.
The policy statement, "The Adolescent's Right to Confidential Care When Considering Abortion," will be published in the February 2017 issue of Pediatrics (published online Jan. 23).
The Academy strongly advocates for the prevention of unintended teen pregnancy through comprehensive health and sexuality education, abstinence and the use of effective contraception by sexually active youths. Adolescents should be encouraged to voluntarily involve their parents and other trusted adults in decisions regarding pregnancy. But state laws that require parental notification or consent do not protect the health of women, and may even do harm, the report states.
Teens who strongly opposed parental notification did so because of anticipated adverse reactions from the parent(s) including damaging their relationship with the parent, and fear that disclosure would escalate conflict or coercion. All of the states that require parental involvement include a judicial bypass procedure, which allows a minor to seek approval from a court to obtain an abortion. The percentages of minors who tell their parents about their intent to have an abortion are the same in states with and without notification laws, according to the report.
The Academy has supported the adolescent's right to confidential care in abortion services based on the significant medical, personal, and social consequences of adolescent childbearing.