Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion
Utah law restricts young women's access to abortion.
Is the law enforceable?Yes. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the parental-notice provision of the law is constitutional as applied to immature and unemancipated young women. H.L. v. Matheson, 450 U.S. 398 (1981). The parental-consent provision has not been considered by a court.
Who is considered a minor? A young woman under the age of 18 who is not otherwise emancipated or married.
What is required - parental notice or parental consent? Both notice and consent.
Who must have knowledge and provide consent? One parent.
Are there other trusted adults who may have knowledge and provide consent instead? No.
What is the process for providing notice and obtaining consent? The attending physician must notify a parent 24 hours before the physician provides the abortion. The physician must also obtain the "informed written consent of a parent or guardian" before providing the procedure.
May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of rape or incest? The parental-notice requirement may only be waived under certain circumstances. If the pregnancy is a result of incest to which the parent or guardian was a party, and there is no other parent or guardian who has not committed incest with the young woman, the physician is not required to give parental notice and must report the incest to the Division of Child and Family Services. There is no exception to the parental-notice law for cases of rape. The parental-consent requirement cannot be waived if the young woman is a victim of rape or incest.
May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of child abuse? The parental-notice requirement may only be waived under certain circumstances. If a parent or guardian abused the young woman, and there is no other parent or guardian who has not abused the young woman who can be notified, the physician is not required to give parental notice and must report the child abuse to the Division of Child and Family Services. The parental-consent law cannot be waived if the young woman is a victim of child abuse.
May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman's health is threatened? Yes, but only if the physician determines that the abortion must be provided immediately to avert the young woman's death or that a medical condition exists such that there is no time to provide parental notice or to obtain parental consent. Such a medical condition would have to threaten the minor's life, or pose "serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."
May the parental mandate be waived under any other circumstances? The parental-notice requirement may also be waived if "the parent or guardian has not assumed responsibility for the minor's care and upbringing." The parental-consent requirement may also be waived if the minor obtains consent from a judge, but such judicial consent does not waive the parental-notice requirement.
If a young woman must obtain permission from a judge, what is the process? She must secure a court order finding, by a preponderance of the evidence, that she "has given her informed consent to the abortion; and is mature and capable of giving informed consent to the abortion" or that "an abortion would be in the minor's best interest." The judicial-bypass procedure will waive the parental-consent requirement, but it does not waive the parental-notice requirement.
Are there other significant requirements under the law? No.
Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law? Yes. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the parental-notice law is constitutional as applied to immature and unemancipated minors. H.L. v. Matheson, 450 U.S. 398 (1981). However, a court held that this parental-notice law was unconstitutional and unenforceable as applied to a specific emancipated and mature young woman who was capable of making an informed decision. L.R. v. Hansen, No. C-80-0078J (D. Utah Feb. 8, 1980). No court has considered the parental-consent law.
Other information about the law: None.
Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-7-304 (Original Statute Enacted 1973; Repealed and Reenacted 1974; Last Amended 2008), -304.5 (Enacted 2010).