The role of parents and partners in minors' decisions to have an abortion and anticipated coping after abortion

J Adolesc Health. 2014 Apr;54(4):428-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.09.021. Epub 2013 Dec 12.


Purpose: Despite the prevalence of laws requiring parental involvement in minors' abortion, little is known about the effect of parental involvement on minors' abortion decision making and anticipated coping after abortion.

Methods: We analyzed data from medical charts and counseling needs assessment forms for 5,109 women accessing abortion services at a clinic in 2008, 9% (n = 476) of whom were minors aged 17 years and under. We examined differences in abortion characteristics, including parental and partner involvement, between minors and adults, and used multivariate logistic regression models to examine predictors of parental involvement and support, confidence in the decision, and anticipated poor coping among minors.

Results: Most minors reported that their mothers (64%) and partners (83%) were aware of their abortion. Younger age was associated with increased odds of maternal awareness and reduced odds of partner awareness. Compared with adults, minors were more likely to report external pressure to seek abortion (10% vs. 3%), and mothers were the most common source of pressure. Minors overall had high confidence in their decision and anticipated feeling a range of emotions post-abortion; minors who felt pressure to seek abortion were less likely to report having confidence in their decision (odds ratio = .1) and more likely to report anticipating poor coping (odds ratio = 5.6).

Conclusions: Most minors involve parents and partners in their decision making regarding abortion, and find support from these individuals. For a minority, experiencing pressure or lack of support reduces confidence in their decision and increases their likelihood of anticipating poor coping after an abortion.

Keywords: Abortion; Adolescents; Decision making; Male partner involvement; Parental involvement.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced* / psychology
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minors
  • Parental Consent / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Parental Notification*
  • Parents
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence* / psychology
  • Sexual Partners
  • United States
  • Young Adult