Effects of Parental Notification and Consent Laws on Teenage Births and Abortions in Texas
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Teen pregnancy and teen abortions are major public health concerns in the United States. The more than 300,000 births to teens each year often involve increased risk to the health of the mother and the baby. Teenage pregnancy and births also raise a variety of related political, clinical, social, and economic concerns. To make effective recommendations regarding contraception, teenage pregnancy, abortion, and sexual education programs, researchers must produce empirical evidence, which accurately evaluates policy options for persons involved in public health policy and legislation. This study investigated the effect of parental notification and consent laws on teen births and abortions in Texas. This research examined health data of females aged 13 - 21 from Texas for 1995 through 2009. In January 2000, Texas enacted a law requiring a medical provider to notify the parents of a minor female seeking an abortion, before performing the abortion. In 2005, the law changed, requiring notarized parental consent in addition to notification for an unemancipated minor to receive an abortion. Teenage birth and abortion rates, as well as other health outcomes related to pregnancy were analyzed. The data included years before notification laws (1995 – 1999), the years following enactment of the notification law (2000 – 2004), and the most current data following the more rigid consent law (2005 – 2009). The analysis used a time-series approach, specifically Auto Regressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) model-fitting processes, to identify any changes in the patterns of the dependent variables resulting from this legislation. Overall, parental notification and consent laws did seem to have an effect on birth and abortion rates for minors in Texas. Specifically, notification laws seemed to have the greatest impact on 16 – 17 year old females, reducing birth and abortion rates. Results were mixed in terms of the effect of the more stringent consent laws and the overall impact of both laws on health outcomes. Findings did differ by race/ethnicity category.
Wills, Laura Jean (2014). Effects of Parental Notification and Consent Laws on Teenage Births and Abortions in Texas. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from