MARYLAND LAW: REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS FOR MINORS
Definition of a Minor: In Maryland, a minor is anyone under the age of 18 years who is not married or the parent of a child.
Maryland's Parental Notification for Abortion Law
(Article 20-103 of the Maryland Annotated Code)
Maryland law requires that one parent or guardian be notified before a minor has an abortion. The parent/guardian does not need to consent (agree) with the minor's choice, but does need to know the minor is planning to have an abortion. Maryland's parental notification law says specifically that no notification is required if, in the judgment of the doctor performing the abortion:
- The minor is mature and capable of giving her informed consent to the procedure, OR
- Notification would not be in the minor's best interest, OR
- Notice may lead to physical or emotional abuse of the minor, OR
- The minor patient does not live with her parent or guardian, OR
- A reasonable effort to give notice has been unsuccessful.
Our experience at Planned Parenthood of Maryland, and the scientific research done by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, show that the vast majority of adolescents (81 percent, according to the AGI study) already involve a parent or other adult in the abortion decision. The remaining young people usually do not turn to their parent because of difficult circumstances, they may not live with the parent, or they may be legitimately concerned about abuse or being thrown out of their homes. Maryland law provides the above exclusions to protect these young people.
Maryland's Minor Consent Law for Reproductive Health Services
(Article 20-102 of the Maryland Annotated Code)
This law permits minors to receive contraceptive services on a confidential basis. The law states that "a minor has the same capacity as an adult to consent to treatment for or advice about drug abuse, alcoholism, venereal disease, pregnancy, and contraception other than sterilization." This means minors can get the following services without parental knowledge or consent:
- Pregnancy testing
- Birth control
- Testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Planned Parenthood encourages adolescents to communicate with their parents and guardians when seeking contraceptive health care, but does not require that they do so. According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), most adolescents already inform parents about their use of reproductive health services.