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Importance of Parental Notification in a Pregnancy Decision

Laws surrounding abortion are frequently the center of controversy. This is true of the Parental Notification of Abortion (PNA) Act as well. This act requires a legal parent or guardian to be notified of a legal minor’s abortion before it happens. This law requires parental notification, not parental consent.

But lately, it’s come under fire in Illinois. Bills such as House Bill 1797 (Moeller, D – Elgin) & Senate Bill 2190 (Sims, D – Chicago) were recently introduced to attempt to repeal this law. While the law still stands, it’s important to understand just how vital Parental Notification is in order to protect teen mothers and their unborn children.

Caring Network is a pro-life organization in Illinois that works to protect the unborn while caring for women who are unexpectedly pregnant. Our six pregnancy centers serve women of all ages. Through providing free services for the past 40 years, we have come to recognize the important role of parents and guardians during an unplanned pregnancy. They can provide the vital support that is needed to navigate a difficult time. If you’d like to learn more about the work we do and how to get involved, reach out to us today!

Parental Notification – Why It’s Important

Think about all the times you’ve heard someone reference the “hard cases” to justify abortion.  She’s too young. She has to finish school. She can’t afford a child, etc.  What people are saying in these cases is that abortion is not an expression of a women’s choice. Rather, it’s a sign that she has no choice.   Advocates of Parental Notice are also worried about how repealing this law will endanger young girls who are the victims of sex trafficking or abuse.  Without laws like the Parental Notification of Abortion Act, a twenty-year-old man could take a thirteen-year-old girl he’s not related to into an abortion facility and her legal guardian would be unaware.  Legal minors need their parent’s protection and guidance as they make major life decisions.  The absence of parents in these kinds of situations raises a red flag.

You can’t have a choice without options. Teenagers often do not have the resources to provide themselves with multiple options in a crisis pregnancy.  Fortunately, a parent or guardian may be able to provide a young mother with resources.  Parents are the ones who can financially support a young teen facing an unexpected pregnancy. They can help provide child care, emotional support, and guidance, or even help through an adoption process.  A parent who already has a child will likely know the facts about fetal development.  They will know that an unborn baby isn’t just a clump of cells.  They can tell a young teenager that their unborn baby has a beating heart 22 days after conception. Or measurable brain activity 6 weeks after conception. A baby can suck its thumb 9 weeks after conception. And even has a face that can be seen on an ultrasound 10 weeks after conception.  Even if a teenager decides to have an abortion, a parent needs to know about the potential health consequences that may follow after their procedure, both physical and emotional.  Instead, this law would allow teenagers to keep their abortions a secret.

The Effects of Parental Notification

Opponents of Parental Notice laws assert that parental notice is unnecessary. They feel that teens can just tell their parents about their unplanned pregnancies regardless.  However, this is not true if they’re being trafficked.  It’s not true if they’re scared about what their parents might think.  Not if a boyfriend is coercing them.  The assertion that legal minors will just tell their parents anyways is just that: an assertion that is impossible to prove and which in some cases is almost certainly false.  For example, after the Parental Notice Act was passed in Illinois, the number of abortions performed on legal minors in Illinois dropped significantly.   According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, abortions on minors have dropped 57% since 2013 when the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act took effect, compared with just a 15% decline in the general population.  If legal minors were already telling their parents about their pregnancies, then the Parental Notice law should have had no effect.

But the PNA act did have an effect.  Of course, frightened teenagers aren’t telling their parents that they’re pregnant, even if it would be in their own best interests.  Having that conversation with parents is hard!  But without it, legal minors are left hiding their unwanted pregnancies. And the only way to do that is through abortion.  They are not being empowered with “choice.”  Without their parent’s help, it’s natural for legal minors to feel like they have no choice but to terminate their pregnancy.  Involving the parents is all about giving legal minors other options that will protect both the unborn and their young parents.

Caring Network is here to do just that – protect the unborn, while coming alongside women, their partners, and their families. For 40 years, we have been providing compassionate care to women of all ages facing unplanned pregnancies in the Chicagoland area. Our pregnancy resource centers are a safe haven of support and resources. If you’d like to learn more about our mission to reach more women and save more lives, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us to learn how to get involved.



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