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Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion

Delaware law restricts young women's access to abortion.

Is the law enforceable?  Yes.

Who is considered a minor?  A young woman under the age of 16.

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

Who must be notified?  One parent.

Are there other trusted adults who may be notified instead?  Yes, if a grandparent or licensed mental-health professional who is not an employee of an abortion provider is notified of the abortion, counsels the young woman that the options available to her include adoption, abortion, and full-term pregnancy, and agrees that it is in the young woman's best interest to waive the parental-notice requirement.

What is the process for providing notification?  A young woman may not obtain an abortion until 24 hours actual notice has been given by the physician, an agent of the physician, or a medically authorized person to one parent.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of rape or incest?  No.

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 a medical emergency exists that so complicates the pregnancy 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 waiver of notice is in her best interests.

Are there other significant requirements under the law?  The Division of Child Mental Health Services shall offer counseling and support to any young woman who is pregnant and may file for court-ordered waiver of notice.

Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law?  No.

Other information about the law:  Delaware's unconstitutional and unenforceable pre-Roe law prohibits an unmarried young woman under 18 from obtaining an abortion without the written consent of the parents with whom she resides or, if she does not reside with either, the written consent of one parent.  Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, §1790 (Enacted 1969; Last Amended 1995).  The Delaware attorney general has issued a Statement of Policy that the state will not prosecute for failure of a young woman to obtain consent pursuant to this law.  Statement of Policy, Attorney General of Delaware (Mar. 24, 1977).  See Del. Women's Health Org. v. Wier, 441 F. Supp. 497, 499 n.9 (D. Del. 1977).

Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, §§ 1780 to 1789B (Enacted 1995).

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