Teens Do Not Need Parental Consent for Abortions

In the State of Georgia, minors under the age of 18 do not need parental consent before receiving an abortion. They do, however, need to notify their parents before the abortion in most cases. In some cases, they can seek a judicial waiver on the notification rule. Such a waiver was granted recently by a Georgia Court of Appeals.

Under Georgia law, most medical procedures require parental consent, such as an appendectomy. Additionally, a minor does not have the right to refuse medical treatment. However, there are some specific cases where a minor can seek medical services without notifying a parent.

Most reproductive health services do not require parental consent or notification. These are, for example, STD testing and treatment, contraception counseling, pregnancy tests, options counseling, labor and delivery services, etc. Outpatient substance abuse programs also do not require notification. However, sterilization does require parental consent.

Abortion is between the two. Usually, it does require that the parent be notified. In addition to the written consent of the minor, you need a signed statement by a parent or guardian that they were notified, or you need to provide advanced notice to the parent in writing by certified mail, telephone, or in person. Consent of the parent, however, is not required. In certain cases, a minor can seek a judicial bypass to obtain the abortion without parental notification. In order to get a waiver, the minor must either “(1) Be mature enough and well enough informed to make the abortion decision in consultation with her physician, independently of the wishes of such minor’s parent or guardian; or (2) That the notice to a parent or, if the minor is subject to guardianship, the legal guardian… would not be in the best interests of the minor.”

In the recent decision, the court found that the girl was mature and well informed, given evidence of her academic plans, calm demeanor, consultation with adults and awareness of the risks of abortion. They therefore granted her a waiver, overturning a lower court’s decision.

Nationally, a bill is being considered in Congress which would prohibit taking minors across State lines to circumvent State laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions. It is the latest iteration of a concept that has been cropping up in Congress since 1998.

The bill does not change any existing State law, but rather forces States to enforce the laws of other States concerning their residents when a minor crosses State lines.  Additionally, the bill imposes penalties on anyone who “knowingly transports a minor across a State line with the intent that such minor obtain an abortion, and thereby in fact abridges the right of a parent under a law requiring parental involvement in a minor’s abortion decision…” The bill also provides punishments for doctors who provide abortions in violation of the bill, with certain exceptions.

In the bill, exceptions are carved out for instances where the abortion was medically necessary to save the life of the minor. The transporter or doctor would also be exempt if they reasonably believed, “based on information the defendant obtained directly from a parent of the minor” that the parental consent or notification took place, or if they were presented with documentation showing “with a reasonable degree of certainty” that a court provided the minor with a waiver. Another carve out exists for instances where the parent committed an act of incest with the minor.

Additional Resources

Minors’ Access to Reproductive Health Care in Georgia: http://www.gachd.org/Minor’s%20Rights%20to%20Confidential.pdf

Justia U.S. Law 2010 Georgia code 11-11-112: http://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-15/chapter-11/article-3/15-11-112/

Justia U.S. Law 2010 Georgia code 15-11-114: http://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-15/chapter-11/article-3/15-11-114/

Minors’ Consent to Medical Treatment: http://law.gsu.edu/cscott/spring08/draft_minors_consent_outline_1.htm

Library of Congress Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.1241.IS:

 

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