AAP: Protect adolescents’ right to confidential abortion services
In an updated policy statement published in Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed its position that due to the medical, personal and social consequences of adolescent childbearing, pregnant teens have the right to confidential and timely access to medical care and services when considering abortion.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as well as many other health professional organizations including the AMA, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, the American Public Health Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, advocate that adolescents should be encouraged, but not required, to involve parents and/or other trusted adults in decisions regarding pregnancy.
According to the report, a majority of states have laws in place that require minors to have parental consent for an abortion; however, such legislation does not protect the adolescent’s health and may increase the risk for harm. Furthermore, states with and without a law mandating parental notification or consent have the same percentage of adolescents who involve a trusted adult when seeking abortion services. Strong opposition to parental notification is mostly due to adolescents anticipating severe parental anger and rejection, and these reactions are likely to occur if parents are notified involuntarily, according to the AAP. Very young adolescents are especially likely to voluntarily involve parents, and those who strongly oppose parental involvement should be carefully evaluated for the possibility of incest or abuse.
A judicial bypass procedure is included in all state laws that require parental involvement, which allows a minor to obtain an abortion through a court approval. While some view a judicial bypass as a reasonable compromise, it risks causing medical and psychological harm to the pregnant adolescent by delaying access to safe, appropriate medical treatment and generating an extremely burdensome, humiliating and stressful process.
The AAP stressed that it is ultimately the adolescent’s right to decide who will be involved and what the outcome of the pregnancy will be. – by Alaina Tedesco
Disclosure: AAP reports no relevant financial disclosures.