Parental involvement in minors' abortion decisions

Fam Plann Perspect. Sep-Oct 1992;24(5):196-207, 213.

Abstract

In a 1991 study based on a nationally representative sample of more than 1,500 unmarried minors having an abortion, 61% of the respondents said that one or both of their parents (usually the mother) knew about the abortion. Only 26% of the respondents said their father knew about the abortion; furthermore, 57% of the mothers who knew about their daughter's pregnancy did not tell her father. In this study, which was conducted in states without parental involvement laws in effect, about 75% of the parents who knew about the pregnancy had been told by the daughter herself, and the great majority supported their daughter's decision to have an abortion. Among the minors whose parents found out without being told by the minor, 18% said their parents were forcing them to have an abortion and 6% reported physical violence, being forced to leave home or damage to their parents' health. Minors who did not tell their parents were disproportionately older (aged 16 or 17), white and employed. The minors' most common reasons for not telling their parents were wanting to preserve their relationship with their parents and wanting to protect the parents from stress and conflict. Of those who did not tell their parents, 30% had experienced violence in their family, feared that violence would occur or were afraid of being forced to leave home. Among minors whose parents were unaware of the pregnancy, all consulted someone other than clinic staff about the abortion; most frequently, they consulted their boyfriend (89%), an adult (52%) or a professional (22%).

PIP: This study examines factors involved in the decision making process of pregnant adolescents to either carry the fetus to term or seek abortion. It specifically investigates minors' initial feelings about their pregnancy and the nature and degree of parental involvement. Results are based on a study of a nationally representative sample of 1519 unmarried minors having an abortion in states without parental involvement laws. 61% of respondents stated that 1 or both parents were aware of the abortion, while only 26% of fathers were informed. 57% of informed mothers did not tell their spouse. 75% of parents who knew about the pregnancy had been told by the daughter and the majority supported the youth's decision. Where parents found out without being told by the daughter, 18% of these girls said that parents were forcing an abortion. Further, 6% reported physical violence, being forced to leave home, or damage to parents' health. Those minor opting to not inform parents were disproportionately older (ages 16-17), white, and employed. These youths generally chose not to inform parents because of the desire to preserve parent-daughter relationships and to protect parents from undue stress and conflict. 30% of those who chose not to tell parents had experienced violence in the family, feared violence would erupt, or were worried about being forced to leave home. Among those minors whose parents were unaware of the pregnancy, all had consulted someone other than clinic staff about the abortion; 89% discussed the matter with their boyfriend, 52% with an adult, and 22% with a professional.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Communication
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Minors*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parental Consent
  • Parental Notification*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence