Of all the abortion-related policy issues facing decision-makers in this country today, parental consent or notification before a minor may obtain an abortion is one of the most difficult. Planned Parenthood wholeheartedly encourages parental involvement when a young woman is faced with an unplanned pregnancy. In fact, in our health centers, 73% of our clients who are teenage girls already involve a parent.
Unfortunately, some young women cannot involve their parents because they come from homes where physical violence and emotional abuse are prevalent or because their pregnancies are the result of incest. In other cases, young women may not realize how supportive their parents might be. In some circumstances, teens facing a crisis pregnancy feel compelled to travel to another state where there is a less stringent parental involvement law or no such law at all, to avoid involving their parents and maintain their privacy. In the direst circumstances, some pregnant young women who fear telling their parents may feel so desperate that they resort to illegal or self-induced abortions that may result in death.
Recognizing this, Colorado legislators incorporated into the law the right for a minor to apply for a judicial bypass of the parental notification. This judicial bypass process can be intimidating and, most importantly, time-consuming. Delays at this crucial time will heighten both physical and emotional health risks, as well as substantially increase the cost of an abortion.
We know that these hurdles can overwhelm teens. Some young women cannot maneuver the legal procedures required or cannot attend hearings scheduled during school hours. Others do not connect with the system because they fear that the proceedings are not confidential or that people at the courthouse will recognize them. Many may experience denial or panic. They cannot imagine revealing intimate details of their personal lives in court. These teens will become overwhelmed with navigating the system alone.
We will not stand by and watch this happen. We have created a free and private statewide response system to the legal needs of minors who seek the judicial bypass option. Specifically, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains:
- Provides information about the judicial bypass process to minors through our toll-free nationwide hotline and website.
- Organizes trainings for attorneys statewide to represent minors.
- Collects information through our communications with minors, abortion providers and volunteer attorneys about the realities of the parental notification law to assist in refining the laws and local practices governing parental notification.
- Educates and networks with statewide crisis intervention organizations serving teens to ensure that judicial bypass is a known option for Colorado minors.
- Supports licensed health care clinics by providing information on how clinic staff can best assist minors in being well informed about their options regarding unintended pregnancy.
- Strives to identify and address other factors that may prevent Colorado minors' right to access the judicial bypass option
- Implemented a Speakers' Bureau presentation about Parental Notification for community members. Call our Education Department at 303.321.7526 for more information.
Through our toll-free hotline (1.866.277.2771) Colorado minors can learn more about the parental notification law and receive attorney referrals for representation. By organizing a network of attorneys, health care providers and crisis intervention specialists, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains can stay on top of the real-life issues facing these minors as they access their constitutional right to choose.
Planned Parenthood believes that the best way to make abortion rare is to make sure women, families and teens have access to confidential and affordable reproductive health care services. We also believe everyone has the right to medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education that contains information about abstinence, birth control, and responsible decision-making.