Abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures for women in the United States. Fewer than 0.05% of women obtaining abortions experience a complication.
The Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act is confusing for most people and it is difficult to perceive what women will have to go through to exercise their right to choose. For many people, the restrictions seem reasonable. A few questions and answers may illustrate the law's actual effect on women and teens.
RESTRICTIONS ON ABORTION
In Pennsylvania, the following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of April 1, 2017:
- A woman must receive state-mandated counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
- Health plans offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion if the woman's life is endangered, or in cases of rape or incest, unless individuals purchase an optional rider at an additional cost.
- Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
- The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided. See below for further information.
- Government funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
- An abortion may be performed at 24 or more weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period only if the woman’s life or health is endangered.
IS IT UNREASONABLE TO REQUIRE INDIVIDUALS TO TAKE MORE TIME TO CONSIDER THEIR DECISION OT HAVE AN ABORTION?
The 24 hour waiting period means patients must make multiple appointments, travel unnecessarily and delay obtaining their medical procedure.
WHAT, EXACTLY, WILL WOMEN WHO CHOOSE TO HAVE AN ABORTION HAVE TO DO?
- If the person believes they are pregnant they must go to a medical provider for a pregnancy test.
- At Planned Parenthood, if the pregnancy test is positive a counselor will provide information about-- abortion, adoption, and parenthood.
- If the patient chooses abortion, the individual must come back for two-three more appointments: a counseling session, a procedure (which must be at least 24 hours after the counseling session) and for some procedures, a follow up visit.
ISN'T IT REASONABLE FOR PARENTS TO KNOW ABOUT THEIR CHILD'S DECISION TO HAVE AN ABORTION?
A study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute showed that more than 63% of all teens do tell their parents about their decision to have an abortion. Teens who do not tell their parents about their decision describe a number of reasons for not doing so, including fear of violence, fear of disappointing their parents, fear of sexual abuse, fear that their parents will argue about it.
DOES A TEEN HAVE TO BRING A PARENT WITH HER OR CAN SHE GET A WRITTEN CONSENT FORM?
Teens must bring a parent or guardian to the state-mandated information session. Teens must tell parents or guardians about the pregnancy, ask the them to come to the clinic to receive the state information session and obtain written consent from the parent or guardian for the procedure.
ARE THERE OTHER OPTIONS FOR TEENS?
Teens may ask a judge for a "judicial bypass," permission to have an abortion without the parent or guardian's consent. Planned Parenthood can provide more information about this process.