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Can I Get an Abortion Without Telling My Parents?

Can I get an abortion without telling my parents? If this is your question, it may be you’re pregnant and a teen, under 18 years of age. You’re concerned about others finding out about the pregnancy, especially your parents because you’re afraid of what their response might be. Will they be disappointed in me? Angry? At a time when I need help and support, will they be there for me? What if they take my phone, kick me out of the house, or stop speaking to me? If you’re in this situation and these are fears you are facing, please know there is help for you.

We are here at Avenue Women’s Center in Chicagoland to give you assistance. In this article, we can help you with answers to some common questions asked by teens. We are not providing legal advice. More than anything, we are here to provide care and services for teens who are facing unexpected pregnancies:

  • a free, medical-grade pregnancy test

Maybe you’ve not actually taken a test but have other reasons to fear you might be pregnant. Maybe your home pregnancy test was inaccurate. You need to find out for sure.

  • information on your pregnancy options

Read on for Illinois information about minors and abortion.

  • resources and additional services that may be helpful for you
  • respect for you and your situation, and the confidentiality you need

We hope you will contact us for a free pregnancy test and/or consultation with one of our client advocates. We have worked with women of all ages, including teens, in many situations, even ones such as yours. Please, reach out to us today. You don’t need to go through this alone!

Here are some answers to the compelling questions that follow “Can I get an abortion without telling my parents?”

Your first question might actually be, “I’m under 18. Can I get an abortion legally?” In Illinois, the answer is “Yes.” A minor can get an abortion in this state without parental permission.

Next, “Can I get an abortion without telling my parents?” Under the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act which went into effect in August 2013, before an abortion can be performed on a minor, the provider must give notification to an adult family member 48 hours before the abortion.

What does this mean? Although they do not need to give permission for a minor, a parent (or an adult family member) must be told by the provider of the intent to perform an abortion 48 hours in advance of the abortion.

What kind of notification is required? According to law, the notification must be “actual notice.” The notification needs to be by direct contact, that is, in person or by phone. If after reasonable efforts, the provider is unable to provide actual notice, the provider may send a certified letter which is deemed delivered after 48 hours. The provider then must wait an additional 48 hours before performing the abortion.

Who is the “adult family member” who must be notified? The family member has to be over 21 years old. It does not need to be a parent. It may be a step-parent who lives in the residence of the minor, a grandparent, or a legal guardian. Only one of these must be notified by the provider.

Are there other options? If an adult family member (step-parent, grandparent or legal guardian as noted above) accompanies the minor for the appointment, the 48-hour waiting period can be waived. The adult family member may also sign a letter to the provider for the minor to bring to the provider, waiving in writing the 48-hour waiting period.

Are there any exceptions? If the minor is married, divorced or widowed, the notification and waiting period do not apply. Another exception is that the minor may go to a circuit court and request a waiver for the notification period. In a University of Chicago publication, details for this exception state she must “prove that she is either sufficiently mature and well enough informed to make an intelligent decision about whether to have an abortion OR that adult family member notification would not be in her best interest.”

That first question, “Can I get an abortion without telling my parents?” opens the door to many other questions you may or may not have thought of. We’ve addressed some of those in this article, but perhaps others have come to mind as you seek to figure out how to get through the challenging time ahead. Maybe you wish you could tell your parents and are afraid, not knowing how to approach the conversation. Maybe you want to gather as many facts and resources as possible before talking with your loved ones. Maybe you just want confidential support as you decide what your next steps will be.

We hope you will let us help you with that. At Avenue Women’s Center, we promise to meet you without judgment and with respect, confidentiality, and genuine caring. As a nonprofit agency, we are able to offer supportive services, free of charge. Please call, text, email or chat and allow us to support you on your journey.


Resources:

  • The University of Chicago. Accessing Abortion in Illinois: A Guide for Health Care and Social Service Providers. Considerations for Minors. Retrieved from: https://abguide.uchicago.edu/page/legal-considerations-minors
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. (2013, November). Understanding the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act. Retrieved from: https://www.aclu-il.org/en/news/understanding-illinois-parental-notice-abortion-act
  • Illinois General Assembly. Illinois Compiled Statutes. Retrieved from: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2103&ChapterID=59

Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.

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