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Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion

Alabama law restricts young women's access to abortion.

Is the law enforceable?  Yes.  A state court held that this law is constitutional. Ex Parte Anonymous, 531 So. 2d 901 (Ala. 1988).

Who is considered a minor?  A young woman under the age of 18 who has never been married or emancipated by court order.

What is required - parental consent or parental notice?  Consent.

Who must provide consent?  One parent.

Are there other trusted adults who may provide consent instead?  No.

What is the process for obtaining consent?  A young woman may not obtain an abortion unless the attending physician secures the written consent of one parent on a form provided by the physician.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of rape or incest?  No, however, if the young woman's pregnancy "was caused by sexual intercourse with the minor's natural father, adoptive father or stepfather or legal guardian," written notice by certified mail to her mother is sufficient.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of child abuse?  No.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman's health is threatened?  Yes, but only if the physician determines that a "medical emergency exists that so compromises the health, safety or well being" of the young woman as to require an immediate abortion.

May the parental mandate be waived under any other circumstances?  Yes, the young woman may try to obtain permission from a judge.

If a young woman must obtain permission from a judge, what is the process?  She must secure a court order stating either that she is mature and well informed enough to make her own decision or that an abortion is in her best interests.

Are there other significant requirements under the law?  No.

Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law?  Yes.  A court upheld the constitutionality of this law as applied to a minor ward of the state who lacked a parent from whom she could obtain consent.  Ex Parte Anonymous, 531 So. 2d 901 (Ala. 1988).

Other information about the law:  The Alabama attorney general has issued an opinion stating that this law applies to mifepristone because it defines abortion as including the use of a drug to terminate a pregnancy.  Ala. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 2001-072 (Jan. 18, 2001). Ala. Code §§ 26-21-1 to -8 (Enacted 1987).

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