Here's the Latest on Forced Parental Involvement Laws Across the Country

Welcome to our third annual Youth Abortion Access Week at If/When/How! We’re highlighting the excellent work of youth activists, legal professionals, clinic workers, and supporters around the country who are working to make forced parental involvement laws a thing of the past, ensuring that young people are able to access abortion care without barriers, shame, or stigma. 

As we conclude our third annual Youth Abortion Access Week at If/When/How, let’s look at how forced parental involvement laws have made the news since last summer, and at the efforts lawmakers, officials, and courts are taking to limit or expand abortion access for young people.

  • In Florida: anti-abortion politicians succeeded in placing more restrictions on young people’s abortion access, passing a forced parental consent requirement into law in February 2020. The new law went into effect on July 1st, and If/When/How Youth Access Counsel Jessica Goldberg denounced the law, writing here on the blog that “Parental involvement laws are part of a decades-long escalation in tactics intended to prevent — by any means necessary — people from accessing or exercising their right to abortion.” For more information on how young folks in Florida can access abortion care in light of the new restrictions, check out this resource from Floridians for Reproductive Freedom.
  • If/When/How also released our report on the failure of the Florida courts system to help young people navigate the judicial bypass process. The researchers we worked with found that Florida courts are overwhelmingly unprepared to relay essential information to young people seeking abortion care.
  • In Illinois: Democrats in the state have described its forced parental notification law as one of the final statutory barriers to abortion care there, and since 2019 have been focused on trying to repeal the restrictions, with efforts lead by Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch.
  • In Massachusetts: Lawmakers have proposed repealing the state’s forced parental consent requirement, but the proposal hasn’t yet been passed into law.
  • In Texas: Researchers at the Texas Policy Evaluation Project released a report in early 2020 looking at growing denial rates for judicial bypasses in the Lone Star State after anti-abortion lawmakers passed stringent new restrictions on young people’s abortion access in 2016. TxPEP found that judges may be allowing politics and policy — not the rule of law — to influence their decisions, arbitrarily denying young people access to abortion.
  • In North Carolina: In April 2020, organizers launched Text Abby, a text line for young folks seeking information about abortion access. The initiative came about, in part, because of If/When/How’s efforts to convene advocates, clinicians, and legal professionals in the state to discuss how to improve abortion access for young people.
  • In Indiana: After ruling against new Louisiana abortion restrictions in June Medical v. Gee, the Supreme Court sent a challenge to Indiana’s forced parental consent law back down to the 7th Circuit to reevaluate the case in light of the June ruling.
  • In Tennessee: On July 13, a judge halted a brand new Tennessee abortion law that could unravel a requirement that courts provide help to young people who need to navigate the judicial bypass process.
  • Nationwide: If/When/How launched our Judicial Bypass Wiki in spring 2020. The site serves as a “living hub” for information about how young people can navigate the court systems in their state to access abortion care.
  • Nationwide: If/When/How launched our COVID policy platform in April 2020, which includes a call to ensure that “Forced parental involvement laws are suspended (and repealed permanently); and in the interim, judicial bypass is made more accessible to ensure young people have swift, confidential access to abortion care.”

Lawyers, law students, and other legal professionals who want to get involved in If/When/How’s efforts to improve abortion access for young people can sign up here to be part of the If/When/How RJ Lawyers Network, and attorneys in particular can sign on to our open letter demanding an end to forced parental involvement laws.

Join us today — there are many, many ways to support young folks to ensure that everyone has the ability to decide if, when, and how to create, sustain, and define their family!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of If/When/How. If you like what you read, consider dropping a few bucks in our tip jar or sharing this post on Facebook or Twitter.