NRL News

Parental notification law drives down teen abortions in Minnesota

by | Jul 28, 2014


Supreme Court ruling 24 years ago opened the door to similar lifesaving measures

Editor’s note. I did not see this when it first ran last month, but the importance of this post from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life needs to be shared.

MCCLParentalNotice2014MINNEAPOLIS—Teen abortions in Minnesota have declined dramatically since the state enacted a law requiring parental notification before minors undergo abortions. Tomorrow [June 25] is the 24th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Minnesota’s parental notification requirement.

The law (MN Statute 144.343), strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), was passed by the Legislature with large bipartisan majorities in 1981. It requires that both parents be notified at least 48 hours before an abortion is performed on a minor girl. The measure includes a judicial bypass procedure, which is required by the courts, and exceptions for rare cases.

Minnesota’s law was in place until 1986, when it was enjoined by a federal district court. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled on June 25, 1990, in the case of Hodgson v. Minnesota, upholding both the two-parent and 48-hour requirements. The law went back into effect that year.

“Our Minnesota law and the Supreme Court decision affirming it helped open the floodgates for more state parental involvement laws,” commented MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. “Strong evidence shows that these laws, among other factors, reduce the incidence of teen abortions.”

The annual number of minor abortions in Minnesota peaked at 2,327 in 1980, the year before the parental notification law first went into effect. Teen abortions then began to steadily decline. Since 1989, the last full year before the Supreme Court ruling, abortions performed on minors have dropped 71.7 percent. In 2012 (the latest year for which data is available), minor abortions fell to 403, the lowest number on record (statistics for minors go back to 1975) and only 3.8 percent of all abortions.

Despite clear public support for parental involvement laws, they are opposed by abortion advocacy groups, including Planned Parenthood, and by Gov. Mark Dayton, who co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act as a U.S. senator. That measure would have eliminated virtually all state abortion laws, including Minnesota’s parental notification requirement. Dayton also voted twice against legislation to require parental notice when a minor is taken across state lines for an abortion, circumventing the law in the state where she lives.

“Parental involvement laws don’t just save unborn lives from abortion,” noted Fischbach. “They reflect the commonsense principle that parents are responsible for their kids and that kids need their parents. To exclude parents, especially at a time of crisis, would be a tremendous disservice to children. Yet that is precisely what Gov. Dayton wants to do.”