Parental Involvement Laws Reduce APM
Special Report - September 24, 2008
State laws that require parental involvement before an abortion can be performed on a minor contributed to the nearly 50 percent decline in abortions performed on minors (APM) nationwide between 1985 and 1999, according to a new Family Research Council study. Conducted by Michael New, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at the University of Alabama, the study analyzes minor abortion data from nearly all 50 states between 1985 and 1999. It is the first to compare the impact of different types of parental involvement lawsthose requiring parental notification or parental consent, as well as laws that require two parents to be involved. Currently, 36 states have enacted parental involvement laws, with 15 of these states, including North Carolina, requiring parental consent for APM. Three of these states, North Dakota, Mississippi and Missouri, have laws that require two parents to be notified before an abortion can be performed on a minor.
Overall, the study found that the minor abortion rate declines by an average of 13.6 percent when a state enacts a parental involvement law. More protective laws, such as those requiring parental consent or two-parent notification, have a greater impact on APM. For example, the study found that a state law requiring a parent to consent to the abortion reduces APM by nearly 19 percent, while a law requiring parents to be notified of the abortion reduces APM by five percent. Likewise, in states with two-parent involvement laws, the state’s minor abortion rate declines about 31 percent, compared to a 13.5 percent decline in states with one-parent involvement laws.
“This study shows that parental involvement laws are an important causal factor in this decline in the overall abortion rate among minors in the United States,” said Professor New. “The overwhelming evidence in support of parental involvement laws should be a boon to legislators everywhere.”
Enacted in 1995, North Carolina’s parental involvement law requires abortion providers to obtain written consent from the minor and one of the minor’s parents, a legal guardian or other legally qualified individual before performing an abortion on the minor. The law includes a provision allowing a minor to seek a judicial waiver of the parental consent requirement. Over the years, numerous bills have been introduced to strengthen the law by requiring the parental consent to be notarized or having a parent or guardian accompany the minor to the clinic or hospital, but the General Assembly has rejected all of these efforts.
“This study demonstrates the clear benefit of strong parental involvement laws to reduce the number of abortions among minors,” said John Rustin director of government relations with the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “In addition, these laws are good public policy, because they affirm the valuable and necessary role that parents play in the lives of their children, especially when the child is dealing with the life-changing circumstance of an unplanned pregnancy.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.