Research Shows Parental Consent Law Effects Pregnant Teens’ Choice of Abortion Method

   A large percentage of teens choose medical vs surgical abortion when parental consent laws are in effect, according to research presented at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ 59th Annual Clinical Meeting in Washington, D.C.

   In August 2009 in Illinois a law went into effect updating the state’s Parental Notice of Abortion Act, which requires parental notice for teens seeking abortion. This put the long-suspended law into effect. In January 2010 the ruling was overturned and the law again suspended.  But from August 3, 2009, to January 22, 2010, parental consent was practiced at a single suburban abortion service. That provided an opportunity to evaluate the impact the law had on abortion method selection.

   Consequently, Suzanne R. Trupin, MD, and Rachel T.  Silvestrini, PhD, of the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, conducted a retrospective study of 99 teens who were under nine weeks of pregnancy and undergoing elective pregnancy termination. When data analysis was complete, the researchers found that when the parental consent law was in effect 39.5% of teens chose to terminate by means of medical abortion. When the law was not in effect 60.7% of the eligible population selected medical abortion.

   In a logistic regression analysis, patient age and gestational age also were shown to contribute significantly to termination type. “If this preliminary finding is confirmed across other practice settings and environments with other applicable laws,” the researchers concluded, “It would be of importance to evaluate the reasons for this finding and see if there are implications for education and counseling of patients and their families in the future.”