Objectives: We explored factors that influenced whether minors involved or excluded a parent when seeking an abortion.
Methods: In the summer of 2010, we conducted interviews with 30 minors who sought an abortion in a state that did not require parental involvement at the time. Interviews were coded and analyzed following the principles of the grounded theory method.
Results: The majority of minors involved a parent. Commonly cited factors were close or supportive parental relationships, a sense that disclosure was inevitable, a need for practical assistance, and compelled disclosure. Motivations for not wanting to involve a parent, although some minors ultimately did, included preservation of the parent-daughter relationship, fear or detachment, and preservation of autonomy.
Conclusions: Minors were motivated to involve parents and other adults who were engaged in their lives at the time of the pregnancy, particularly those who supported them in obtaining an abortion. Motivations to exclude a parent were often based on particular family circumstances or experiences that suggested that involvement would not be helpful, might be harmful, or might restrict a minor's ability to obtain an abortion.