“My parents don’t know I’m having sex, much less considering abortion.” Have you said these words out loud to a trusted friend – or even just to yourself – as you’re reflecting on your current predicament, wondering what to do next? This is a tough situation. Whether your relationship with your parents is good, or not so good, if you are sexually active and your parents aren’t aware of it, and if you’re pregnant (which your question implies), our heart goes out to you.
Avenue Women’s Center is committed to serve women of all ages and in all situations as they wrestle with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy. We are a limited women’s clinic with services extending from a medical- grade pregnancy test, to a private, confidential pregnancy consultation with an experienced client advocate, and more. Many of are services are free of charge. If you are a Chicagoland area woman facing this particular issue, or if you are struggling with any aspect of an unintended pregnancy, please call us – or text, or email, or chat —and allow us to serve you.
If your parents don’t know you are having sex and are now considering abortion, you may be trying to navigate the decision-making process without their involvement. If that is the case, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. If you decide to pursue an abortion, you’ll want to gather information regarding parental consent or notification for your state. Also, you’ll want to consider if you should voluntarily tell your parents regardless of your state’s laws or what you decide to do about the pregnancy.
Do they have to know?
For a minor woman considering abortion, parental consent to the abortion is not required. Illinois State Law, however, does mandate parental notification. An abortion cannot be performed on a woman under 18 years of age (who is not or has not been married, or who has not been emancipated under the Emancipation of Minors Act) unless the physician or abortion provider has given actual notice to an adult family member at least 48 hours before the procedure. Here are the details:
- The adult family member must be over 21 years of age.
- The adult family member must be a parent, grandparent, step-parent who is living in the household, or a legal guardian.
- “Actual” notice means it must be given directly to the adult family member, in person or by telephone.
Notification is not required if the adult family member accompanies the minor for the procedure, or if the adult family member waives in writing the notification from the provider; however both those situations require that the adult family member (parent) knows about the planned procedure. An exception to the requirement for parental notification is if the minor petitions the circuit court for a waiver of the requirement. She may participate in the court proceedings on her own behalf.
For a woman who is 18 years of age or older, the notification is not required by law.
Should they know?
Regardless of notification laws, you are still faced with the problem that you’re pregnant and your parents don’t know. You need to decide how you’re going to handle that. Again, your specific circumstances come into play.
- Do you feel certain they will be angry with you?
- Are you living at home and afraid they might kick you out, leaving you without financial or other support?
- Are you simply dismayed that you have let them down and they will be disappointed in you?
- What if you’re mistaken in how you believe they will react to the news? What if they would surprise you and rally to help you through it?
- What if you don’t tell your parents but it comes out later? How would you handle this situation? Will you be able to keep it a secret forever?
Often, even in the worst of family dynamics, there’s still an engrained desire to have the approval and love of your parents. There are a lot of factors involved in the decision of whether or not to tell your parents and it’s not one to be taken lightly. Think through all the pros and cons and consider both the short-term and long-term implications of each option.
If you still feel like you are unable to tell you parents, is there another trusted adult in your life? Many women report feeling a lack of support when they are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. The encouragement of a trusted ally can make a huge difference.
If you don’t have that type of support in your life, or even if you do, Avenue Women’s Center is a great place to turn. We provide a safe place to process your pregnancy decision with our caring client advocates. We can offer a unique perspective as someone who is not directly impacted by your decision, as well as support and information as you navigate this process. We have assisted many women facing their own set of obstacles over the past 36 years. Let us come alongside you as well! Call, text, email or chat today to set up an appointment right away!
- Illinois General Assembly. Illinois Compiled Statutes. FAMILIES (750 ILCS 70/) Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995. Retrieved from: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2103&ChapterID=59
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.