Antiabortion activists repeatedly claim that state laws requiring parental involvement (such as notification or consent) for minors to obtain abortions have been a major contributing factor to declining abortion rates among minors in the United States.
Most recently, Michael New, a visiting fellow at the antiabortion advocacy organization Family Research Council, posted an analysis on the organization’s Web site that he claims “demonstrates that state level parental involvement laws are effective in reducing the incidence of abortion among minors.”1 New’s analysis, which has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, has serious methodological flaws. Like many previous studies on the subject, it is not able to substantiate the claim.
In contrast, there is strong evidence that the decline in minors’ abortion rates is largely the result of fewer teen pregnancies, which, in turn, reflect better contraceptive use among adolescents. Moreover, the evidence suggests that even in the absence of parental involvement laws, some six in 10 minors involve at least one parent in their decision to have an abortion. Mandating this involvement can be harmful to some minors.