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Parental Notification FAQ

The Parental Notification Act is a law passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2003.  Under this law, if a woman under the age of 18 becomes pregnant and chooses to have an abortion, the health care provider must notify her parent or guardian 48 hours before she can have the procedure.  Find out more by reading our frequently asked questions below.

To whom does this statute apply?
It applies to all minors under age 18 except:

  • Those who are emancipated.
  • Those who have informed the attending doctor that they are "victims of child abuse or neglect by the acts or omissions of the person who would be entitled to notice".
  • Those who have a medical emergency.

What is emancipation?
Emancipation means:

  • A minor who is at least 15 years old, does not live with her parents, guardian or foster parent and financially supports and takes care of herself.
  • A minor who has contracted a lawful marriage.

Note: Being a parent does not imply automatic emancipation unless one of the other qualifications above is met.

What if the young woman is a victim of child abuse?
The health center will be required to report to the authorities as usual and that will serve as notification, provided the abuser is the parent or guardian that would be entitled to notice. If this is the case, the client should be informed that this abuse constitutes waiver of notification and waiver of the 48-hour waiting period. However, if the abuser is not the parent or guardian, the notification letter will be sent to the parent or guardian and the abuse will be reported to the proper authorities.

How does parental notification work?
If the woman is under 18 and wants to make an appointment for an abortion, a certified letter must be sent to her parent's address. She can have the abortion 48 hours after the notification is sent. The 48 hours starts at noon the day after the letter is put in the mail.

What if the parent (or relative or guardian as defined in the statute) comes to the health center with the client?
There will be a form at the health center that the parent (relative, guardian) can sign.

What if the woman is 17 when she calls but will turn 18 at the time of the abortion appointment?
If the woman is 18 at the time of the abortion appointment, the parent does not have to be notified.


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