Federal Court Rules Parents Don’t Have a Right to Know When Their Daughters are Considering an Abortion

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 28, 2019   |   4:10PM   |   Indianapolis, Indiana

A federal appeals court upheld a block Tuesday on an Indiana law that requires underage girls to inform their parents before having an abortion.

A Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel allowed the block to remain in place, rejecting an appeal from the state that asked to be allowed to enforce the law, the AP reports.

The law, which passed in 2017, strengthens current Indiana laws regarding parental rights by requiring abortion providers to obtain proof of consent from a parent or legal guardian before a girl under 18 has an abortion. It gives parents/legal guardians a civil recourse if someone fraudulently poses as a parent in order for a minor girl to get an abortion. It also makes sure parents are involved if a minor appears before a judge to request an abortion without her parents’ consent.

The Planned Parenthood abortion chain and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the parental consent law the same year. Their lawyers argued that abortion clinics should be allowed to perform abortions on young girls without their parents’ knowledge. A lower court later issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law.

The Seventh Circuit judges agreed with the injunction this week.

“The State has not yet come forward with evidence showing that there is a problem for the new parental notice requirement to solve, let alone that the law would reasonably be expected to solve it,” Judge David Hamilton wrote in his decision, WBAA News reports.

The ACLU of Indiana claims the provisions violate young women’s constitutional rights by imposing “new burdens” on their access to abortion.

However, Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter previously said parents should have a role in decisions that affect their underage daughter’s health.

“Planned Parenthood claims abortion is a ‘women’s right,’ but this rhetoric forgets we’re talking about young, minor girls,” he told LifeNews. “An abortion is not a trivial health decision to be made lightly. Parents deserve to be involved and informed.”

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Parental notification/parental consent laws have strong public support. Currently, 37 states require some type of parental involvement in a minor’s abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

These laws can help protect young women from abusive situations. Sexual abusers have been known to take their young victims to abortion clinics when they become pregnant.

In 2008, a Planned Parenthood in Bloomington, Indiana was exposed for agreeing to help cover up the alleged sexual abuse of a minor in an undercover sting.

In another case in Ohio, Planned Parenthood faced a lawsuit after it failed to report the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl. The girl’s soccer coach got her pregnant and then took her to the abortion clinic to cover up his crime, LifeNews reported.

Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life, previously has spoken about how parental involvement laws help protect vulnerable young girls from abuses.

“Who takes under-aged, pregnant girls across state lines for abortion? Most often, it’s noncustodial, older men who are sexual predators seeking to conceal the crime of statutory rape or other noncustodial adults involved in sex trafficking of minors,” she wrote at LifeNews in 2012.

Foster pointed to the testimony of abortionist Bruce Lucero who wrote in the New York Times: “… a parent’s input is the best guarantee that a teenager will make a decision that is correct for her—be it abortion, adoption or keeping the baby. And it helps guarantee that if a teenager chooses an abortion, she will receive appropriate medical care.”

However, Planned Parenthood, NARAL and other abortion advocacy groups often lobby against parental involvement laws. They believe that underage girls should be able to abort their unborn babies in a dangerous surgical or drug-induced abortion procedure without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

In 2013, Planned Parenthood also filed a lawsuit in Montana to overturn its parental involvement requirements.