A Teen’s Guide to Accessing Abortion

Posted July 1, 2024

Abortion is safe, normal, and any reason to have one is a good reason. Unfortunately, accessing abortion care can be challenging especially for young people. But you're not alone - we can give you an overview of everything so you can make the best decision for yourself and can connect you with trusted organizations that can help.

Let’s start with parental involvement laws, what are they?

There are currently      states that require parental notification or consent when a minor is seeking an abortion -- these are called parental involvement laws. In most states, a legal minor is someone who is under 18 years old. The requirements for parental involvement laws depend on your state and the clinic. In some states it means the clinic would have to notify your parent or legal guardian. In others, it means your parent or legal guardian must be with you at the clinic to sign consent forms. If you can’t find the information at Ineedana.com, calling the local abortion clinic is a great resource or contact the Repro Legal Helpline by calling 1-844-868-2812.

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I can’t tell my parents I’m getting an abortion - what do I do?

In states that have parental involvement laws, there is an exception for involving your parents or legal guardian which is called a judicial bypass.

A judicial bypass is obtaining legal permission for a doctor to perform an abortion without notifying the parents or guardian of a minor. Obtaining legal permission means the teen will have to go in front of a judge to prove one of two things:

(1) they are mature enough to make this decision on their own or

(2) it’s in the best interest of the minor to have an abortion without involving their parents.

The type of questions a judge can ask vary, some judges are sympathetic and others may not be. We know this is unfair and can sound intimidating but there are local abortion funds, organizations and clinics that can specialize in helping teens through this process, even sometimes including providing you with a free attorney, so you feel prepared and supported!

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Organizations in banned states that can help

Not every state with parental involvement laws has an organization to help with the judicial bypass process. If you don’t see your state or your destination state in the above table, you can call the Repro Legal Helpline at 844-868-2812 for help.

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There are also two other options to consider on where to have an abortion:

  1. Having medication abortion pills sent to your home (or to a trusted friend/family member) and having an abortion at home.
  2. Traveling to a state that does not have parental involvement laws, so you can consent to your own abortion without your parents or a judges’ permission.

    Places that don’t have parental involvement laws: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Washington D.C.

    If you are 16 years old or older, you do not need to involve your parents in Delaware, Massachusetts, and Montana. If you are 17 years old or older, you do not need parental consent in South Carolina.

    has a parental notification law but can be waived by a doctor. Talk to the clinic for more details.

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But I live in a state where abortion is banned…

The June 2022 ruling by SCOTUS on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization eliminated the constitutional right to abortion and allowed states to decide if abortion would be legal. As a result, 15 states have completely banned abortion and others have severely restricted it, oftentimes making abortion care inaccessible. But, the U.S. Attorney General affirmed the right for people to travel out of state to access abortion care, including minors.

If you're under 18 in a state with abortion bans, you can travel to a state where it's legal. When choosing, factors like distance, costs, school time, childcare, etc., matter, but for teens, knowing if the destination state has parental involvement laws is crucial.

If you enter your age on ineedana.com, our “practicality sort” can take those parental involvement laws in account and better recommend the easiest places to go.

If your destination state requires parental involvement and your parent/guardian cannot be notified or consent, you'll need a judicial bypass from the state where you get the abortion. This might lengthen your trip. If that's not feasible or if the destination state does not allow non-state residents to get a judicial bypass (like Ohio), consider traveling to a state without parental involvement laws or arranging to have abortion pills mailed to you.

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I’m confused, can you break down the options for me?

We know this is confusing! Anti-abortion politicians pass these laws and restrictions to make abortion inaccessible but this will give you a better idea of your options and connect you to organizations that can help! You deserve to feel supported and affirmed in your decisions. So, what does this look like?

Let’s use Texas as an example: A 16 year old who is living in Dallas, TX wants to have an abortion. Since abortion is banned in Texas the nearest abortion clinics are in Wichita, Kansas (6 hour drive or 1.5 hour flight) or Albuquerque, New Mexico (9.5 hour drive or 2 hour flight).

  • Option 1: Kansas
    Kansas is a lot closer but requires the young person to have both of their parents consent. If the parents cannot or will not travel to Kansas, a judicial bypass is required. The young person must meet with a judge in Kansas prior to the abortion to get permission. Typically, the clinic can help you with the judicial bypass process. Additionally, the clinic has a counseling requirement for the young person, and they must be accompanied by someone who is over 21 years old.
  • Option 2: New Mexico
    New Mexico is further however, there are no parental involvement laws which means the young person can travel to New Mexico without their parents or guardian and consent to the abortion themselves.
  • Option 3: Pills by Mail
    If traveling is not an option, medication abortion pills can be mailed instead.

**If you are a Texas minor and need help with traveling and paying for the abortion you can call Jane’s Due Process at 866-999-5263.

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I thought abortion was banned in my state, can I have pills mailed to me?

Even though some states restrict abortion pill access, there are several ways people still get abortion pills by mail -- from online clinics, websites that sell pills and community networks that mail pills. Abortion pills are medically safe, but can come with legal risk in states where abortion is banned.

Wait - what does “legal risk” mean?

It can also be helpful to remember legal risk isn’t a cut and dry thing and it is specific to each person. Just because something is illegal, doesn’t mean you’ll definitely or even probably get arrested. In fact, most bans specifically say the pregnant person can’t be charged under the law. But just because something isn’t a crime doesn’t mean you can’t be arrested and harassed by law enforcement (even in “safe” places like California). Everyone’s risk will vary depending on demographics and context. How much risk you can take is also a very personal thing and can often change over time.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can call the Repro Legal Helpline at 844-868-2812 to talk with a lawyer about your specific legal risk.


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What things should I keep in mind?

This is a great question! There are so many factors in deciding when and how to have an abortion -- no one can make this choice for you because only you know what’s best and what will work. For teens, barriers to traveling can be even greater so consider the following when you do:

I live in a state where abortion is banned and I want to travel to a state where abortion is legal.

I live in a state where abortion is banned and I want pills by mail.