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Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion

Maine 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 18.

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?  Yes, an adult family member.

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, unless the physician determines that the woman is mentally and physically competent to give "informed" written consent.

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.  A physician may provide an abortion without the young woman's parent's consent if the physician obtains written consent from the minor, and the physician determines that "the minor, under all the surrounding circumstances, is mentally and physically competent to give consent."

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 either granting her majority rights for the sole purpose of consenting to an abortion or stating that an abortion is in her best interests.

Are there other significant requirements under the law?  Yes.  A young woman may not obtain an abortion without receiving counseling from a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse, physician's assistant, clergy member, or qualified counselor.  Counseling must include:  (1) the alternative choices for managing the pregnancy; (2) information on prenatal care, alternatives to abortion, and agencies providing assistance; and (3) the possibility of involving her parents or other adult family members.  The attending physician also must inform the minor of:  (1) the number of weeks of the pregnancy's duration; and (2) the risks of pregnancy and the proposed abortion procedure.

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

Other information about the law:  None

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 22, § 1597-A (Enacted 1989; Last Amended 2003).

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