Father Doesn't Need to be
Informed Before Abortion
I just found out that I'm pregnant. I have no idea what I'm going
to dokeep it, have an abortion or put it up for adoption.
I'm just trying to figure out what my options are. My question is
about abortion. If I do decide to have one, do I have to get my
boyfriend's (the father) permission? And what about my parents?
Do I have get their permission? Or even tell them before I do anything?
Leslie, Sophomore, Private College or University, Colorado
It's a well established law that the father of a fetus has no right
to be notified of an intended abortion. So on that front, the decision
is yours alone to make.
But, depending on your age, your parents are a different story.
A majority of states, including Colorado, have laws that require
parental involvement in the decision making process. These statutes
vary a great deal: Some require the consent of both parents, others
only the notification of one. A few simply require a counseling
session that includes a discussion about telling your parents. Of
course, the laws only apply to minors. So if you're over the age
of 18, you can do whatever you want to and have no legal obligation
to talk to anyone about it.
Colorado is one of the states that require both parents to consent
(unless there is abuse or neglect involved, which isn't the case
here). So, if you do decide to have an abortion, one option is to
get both of your parents to sign off on the procedure.
But there is another route you can take. Colorado law also allows
for something called a judicial bypass. This means that, with court
approval, the notification requirement can be waived and a minor
can get an abortion without telling her parents.
I know what you're thinking: appearing in court seems far more
intimidating than telling your parents. But, it's a very simple
judicial proceeding. It doesn't require much more that showing up
and asking for the bypass. And there are often local organizations
that represent young women in judicial bypass proceedings for a
nominal fee or even free of charge. Your local Planned Parenthood
Clinic or ACLU should be able to point you toward some help. And
the Center for Reproductive Rights (http://www.reproductiverights.org/)
has a great deal of information available at their website.
The material in this column addresses general
legal issues only; is not legal advice and should not be relied
on as such; and may or may not be appropriate to a specific situation.
Laws and procedures change frequently and are subject to differing
interpretations. This column is not intended to create, and does
not create, a lawyer-client relationship and is not intended to
substitute for legal counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.