Missouri House lawmakers gave their final approval of a bill to require that both parents be involved when their underage daughter wants to abort an unborn baby.
While the state currently requires that one parent consent to a minor’s abortion, it does not require that both parents be informed of the decision. The legislation would change that.
The bill would require that both parents who have custody of a girl under age 18 be notified in writing of the girl’s plans to abort her unborn baby. Exceptions would be allowed if a parent has been convicted of a sexual offense or if they cannot be located.
Missouri Right to Life testified in support of the bill in January: “Parents have a protectable interest in the life, health and well-being of their child. Abortion has multiple risks and all parents should be informed of an impending abortion on their child. In today’s times when young people, still under age and on their parents insurance, are pulled many different directions by family issues, parental notification is essential to all parents in the protection of their child’s health.”
State lawmakers considered similar bills in the past several years.
Parental involvement laws have strong public support. According to a 2009 Pew Research Poll, “Even among those who say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, 71 percent favor requiring parental consent” before girls under 18 have abortions. A 2011 Gallup poll also found 71 percent of Americans favor such laws.
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These common-sense laws have been effective in reducing abortion rates across the country. A 2011 study by Michael New, Ph.D. at the University of Alabama found that parental involvement laws reduce in-state abortion rates for minors by approximately 15 percent.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 38 states require some type of parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion.