AAP supports the right of an adolescent to access an abortion to terminate an unintended pregnancy.

Adolescents who are facing an unplanned pregnancy deserve access to medically accurate, unbiased, developmentally appropriate information about abortion, and support in obtaining this care if they so choose.

AAP policy affirms that it is an adolescent’s right to decide the outcome of their pregnancy and the people who should be involved. Pediatric health clinicians should encourage adolescents to engage their parents/caregivers or a trusted adult in their decision-making around pregnancy and abortion; however, if adolescents choose not to do so, their decision should be respected.


Tammi Kromenaker BSW; Clinic Director, Red River Women’s Clinic, Fargo ND.

In the US, abortion is heavily regulated. This is especially true when it comes to youth access to abortion, specifically for those under the age of 18. Many of these laws are enacted by legislatures that made certain assumptions about family dynamics and make up: for example, the idea of an intact, nuclear family consisting of a biological female parent, a biological male parent, and their children all living under the same roof with the ability to safely navigate difficult and intimate discussions regarding sex, sexuality, reproductive healthcare needs, and abortion. Another assumption under which restrictive abortion laws have been written is a patriarchal obsession with the idea of “protecting” young, vulnerable girls who fall prey to much older men working in collusion with abortion providers. These assumptions do not reflect reality and undermine the diversity of experiences and circumstances that impact youth seeking abortions in the US. It all adds up to a literal obstacle course of differing rules, regulations and hoops minors must jump through in order to fulfill each differing state’s legal requirements.

In North Dakota, where I operate the only abortion clinic in the state, we have some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country for minors. A minor has two options when seeking abortion care in our state. They can either 1) inform both biological parents of their intention to have an abortion, the physician/provider must then send out a certified letter to each parent and then the custodial parent(s) must give their consent. The other option is for 2) the minor to seek a judicial bypass, in the county in which they live, if they cannot inform or involve one or both of their biological parents. This difficult set up poses confidentiality issues for minors living in small, rural counties where just being seen walking into the local courthouse can become community gossip.

Abortion providers and advocates for young people have undergone herculean efforts in order to break down many of the barriers’ minors face when accessing abortion care. There are numerous organizations, agencies and research that has been done in this area.

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American Academy of Pediatrics