Father Doesn't Need to be
Informed Before Abortion

Dear CO-STAR:

I just found out that I'm pregnant. I have no idea what I'm going to do—keep 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

Leslie:

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.

Good luck.

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.

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