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Fam Plann Perspect. 1980 Nov-Dec;12(6):284-92.

Telling parents: clinic policies and adolescents' use of family planning and abortion services.



The Alan Guttmacher institute surveyed some 2500 family planning agencies, 2100 abortion providers and nearly 2400 teenage family planning and abortion recipients, the latter a representative national sample from more than 100 family planning and abortion clinics. 44% of abortion facilities and 20% of family planning providers require parental consent or notification if the teenager is 15 or younger; 30% of abortion providers and 10% of family planning facilities have such requirements for all minors. Substantial numbers of both types say they sometimes waive restrictive policies. 55% of all patients younger than 18 attending abortion clinics said that their parents knew they were doing so. The younger the teenager, the more likely the parents were to know. 23% said their parents did not know, and that they would not have come to the clinic had parental notification been required. Most said they would have had an illegal or self induced abortion or would have carried the unwanted pregnancy to term. 59% of family planning clinic patients younger than 18 said their parents knew or suspected that they were at the clinic. 23% said they would not come to the clinic if parental consent or notification were required. Most would continue to engage in sexual intercourse but use less effective nonprescription methods or no method. Only 2% said they would stop having sex. Extrapolating these findings to all teens attending family planning clinics shows that if all clinics had parental notification or consent requirements, about 125 thousand teenagers would stop using effective methods and would switch to less effective ones; 26 thousand would use nothing. In 1 year, 33 thousand more teenagers would become presgnant, resulting in 14,000 abortions, 9000 out-of-wedlock births, 6000 forced marriages, and 4000 miscarriages. Applying the figure to the 184 thousand teens younger than 18 who had abortions in 1978, some 39 thousand more teenagers might be expected to inform their parents of their abortion decision, but 42 thousand would not do so. Instead, 19 thousand of them would have illegal or self induced abortions, 18 thousand would have unwanted births, and 5000 would leave home.

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