Colorado's Parental Notification Law
DISCLAIMER: This page is for informative purposes only. This page does not constitute legal advice. This page does not replace or intend to replicate strict adherence to local laws.
The Colorado Parental Notification Law, also cited and known as the “Colorado Parental Notification Act”, was passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2003. The law requires physicians or healthcare providers to notify a parent or guardian of a minor’s scheduled abortion procedure. There are exceptions to the notification rule, such as the formal emancipation of a minor or the minor has obtained a Judicial Bypass of the parental notification requirement.
This notification must occur at least 48 hours in advance of a scheduled abortion procedure. The minor patient should be told their parent or guardian does not have to "consent" [approve] the abortion procedure, but the law mandates a health care provider must notify a parent or guardian via written notice at least 48 hours prior to a scheduled abortion procedure.
Please read our frequently asked questions, below.
To whom does this statute apply?
It applies to all minors under age 18.
Are there exceptions?
Yes, there are some exceptions to Parental Notification such as:
- Minors who are legally emancipated from their parent(s). See additional information about emancipation in the next question below.
- A minor who has informed the health care provider that they are a victim of child abuse or neglect by the acts or omissions of the person who would be entitled to notice under the law.
- Minor patients who have a medical emergency, as certified by the attending physician.
- Minor patients who have obtained a valid court order. Please see the Judicial Bypass page for more information.
What is emancipation?
Emancipation means a few things, which we will try to clarify:
- A minor may formally obtain emancipation from their parent or guardian through the court system, which grants the minor release from the control, support, and responsibility of a parent or guardian.
- Another meaning of emancipation in context to Parental Notification is a minor who is at least 15 years old, does not live with their parents, guardian, or foster parent and financially supports and takes care of theirself.
- Finally, a minor who has contracted a lawful marriage is considered emancipated.
Note: A minor who is also a parent themselves does not imply automatic emancipation unless one of the other qualifications above is met.
What if the minor does not live with their mother or father?
If the minor permanently lives with a grandparent, adult aunt or uncle, legal guardian, or foster parent, that person can be sent the notification letter.
What if the minor patient is a victim of child abuse?
The staff at the health center will be required to report such abuse to the authorities, per mandatory reporting laws. If the abuser is the parent or guardian who would be entitled to notification under the statute, parental notification may not be required. However, if the abuser is not the parent or guardian, the notification letter will be sent to the parent or guardian as described in the statute and the abuse will be reported to the proper authorities.
How does Parental Notification work?
If the minor patient is under 18 and wants to make an appointment for an abortion procedure, written notification must be sent to the minor patient’s parent's address 48 hours in advance of the scheduled abortion procedure. The minor patient can have the abortion procedure 48 hours after written notification is sent. The clock for 48 hours starts to tick at noon the day after written notification is mailed.
What if the patient is 17 years old when they schedule the abortion appointment, but will be 18 years old on the day of the abortion appointment?
If the patient is over 18 years of age at the time of service, i.e. day of appointment, the parent does not have to be notified.
What if the minor patient cannot tell their parent(s) or guardian(s)?
The minor patient may seek Judicial Bypass. Click here for more information.