Understanding Texas' Parental Notification and Consent Laws for Abortion Care
Information for Teens: Texas law requires that a minor's parent be notified if she decides to have an abortion, and the minor's parent must give his/her consent. This web page is designed to explain the law, the notification process and your options. Planned Parenthood staff are available to answer questions about these laws. Please call our health center on Babcock Road in San Antonio at (210) 736-2262 or our health center on San Pedro Ave. in San Antonio at (210) 806-0324.
What are the Texas Parental Notification and Consent Laws?
The Texas Parental Notification Law applies to pregnant teens who are 17 years of age or younger and have decided to have an abortion. The law requires your doctor to notify your parent, legal guardian or conservator at least 48 hours before you have an abortion.
The Texas Parental Consent for Abortion Law requires one of your parents to give his/her consent before you can have an abortion.
First Things First
You must contact Planned Parenthood at least 24 hours before an abortion procedure as mandated by law. The Texas "Woman's Right to Know Act" effective January 1, 2004, requires that all women seeking abortion services be given the opportunity to be provided with certain information at least 24 hours before they can have an abortion. Clinic staff will provide you with a phone number where you can call and hear a recording made by our physician that contains the required information.
The Texas Parental Notification and Consent Laws do not apply to other services you may receive at Planned Parenthood, such as birth control, pregnancy testing or testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.
The Texas Parental Notification and Consent Laws do not apply to you if you are married or emancipated (legally not under the custody of your parent).
There are two exceptions to parental notification:
- If you do not want your doctor to tell your parent, a judge must issue an order that removes the requirement that you inform your parent about your planned abortion (continue reading for more detail).
- If your doctor determines you are having a medical emergency and an abortion must be performed immediately, you will not be required to tell a parent.
The law requires parental notification and consent. Your parent's permission is required for you to have an abortion.
What can I expect at my Planned Parenthood clinic visit?
If you are pregnant and you have decided to have an abortion, clinic staff will need to obtain important information from you to start the parental notification process. You will be asked to verify your age by providing identification, such as a driver's license, Texas state identification card, military identification card, birth certificate or passport. Your parent will also need to provide identification.
We encourage you to talk to your parents, if possible, about your decision to have an abortion. If your parent accompanies you to your clinic visit, we will explain the parental notification and consent laws. A parent must sign a consent form that will be notarized. Clinic staff can help with the notary process in the clinic and free of charge. Your parent's notarized signature on this form completes the process.
If your parent did not accompany you to Planned Parenthood, clinic staff will ask you to discuss your decision with your parent. If you want Planned Parenthood staff to call your parent, we will do that for you.
What if I choose not to tell my parents?
If you do not wish to notify your parent, you may apply for a waiver of parental notification and consent. A waiver of parental notification and consent means that a judge has issued an order that removes the requirement that you must inform your parent about your planned abortion. Planned Parenthood staff will assist you and will also direct you to people who can help you with the waiver process.
To apply for the waiver you must complete some forms (available at Planned Parenthood). The forms will ask for basic information about you and your reasons for seeking the waiver. These forms need to be delivered to the clerk in district court, county court or probate court. You will not be charged any money to file your application.
You may ask people to help you with the waiver process - an adult friend and/or your own lawyer. If you do not have an attorney, the court will assign one to you at no cost. A guardian ad litem (someone who represents you because you are a minor) will also be appointed by the court. The court appointed attorney may also serve as your guardian ad litem.
- Go to the Bexar County Court House (large red brick building at 100 Dolorosa St.).
- Ask for the adoption clerk.
- When you are in the adoption clerk's office, tell them you want to apply for a waiver.
- A courthouse employee will assist you in:
- filling out the waiver application
- assigning a judge to your case
- appointing a lawyer to represent you
- You will meet with the attorney and get ready to appear before the judge.
- Present your case to the judge (probably the next day).
- The Judge will do one of the following:
- Approve your request because:
- You are mature enough to make your own decision.
- It is not in your best interest to notify your parent before getting the abortion.
- Notifying your parent before getting the abortion may lead to physical, sexual or emotional abuse to you.
- Deny your request because the court does not find 1, 2, or 3 listed above.
- Delay responding to your request. If the court does not rule before 5 p.m. on the second business day after filing your application, it counts as an "okay" to have the abortion without telling your parent.
The paperwork you receive from the court must be brought to Planned Parenthood. Your hearing will be confidential and private. That means your application and all testimony, documents and other evidence presented in court will be "sealed," meaning kept confidential. Your medical records at Planned Parenthood will also remain private.
Jane's Due Process (1-866-999-5263) is a nonprofit organization ensuring legal representation for pregnant minors in Texas.