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Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion

Virginia 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 who has never been married, is not a member of the armed services, and is not otherwise emancipated.

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?  Yes, an "authorized person," including a parent, legal guardian, or another adult including a grandparent or adult sibling, with whom the young woman resides and who has care and control of her.

What is the process for providing notice and obtaining consent?  A young woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 24 hours actual notice has been given in person or by telephone by the attending physician to an authorized person and the physician has obtained notarized written consent from such authorized person.  If actual notice is not possible after a reasonable effort and constructive notice is given by certified mail, such notice must be mailed at least 72 hours prior to the abortion.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of rape or incest?  Yes, but only in limited circumstances.  An unlawful sexual act must have been committed, or allowed to have been committed, by a parent or another person responsible for the minor's care.  The physician must have reason to believe the minor's declaration regarding the sexual abuse and must report it to the local or state department of social services.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of child abuse?  Yes, if the physician has reason to believe the minor's declaration that she is an abused or neglected child and reports the suspected abuse to the local or state department of social services.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman's health is threatened?  Yes, but only if the attending physician certifies in writing that a medical emergency exists.  A medical emergency is defined as a medical condition of the young woman that necessitates an immediate abortion to preserve her life or for which a delay will create "a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."

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?  The young woman must secure a court order stating either that the minor is mature enough and well enough informed to make her decision independent of the wishes of an authorized adult, or that an abortion is in her best interests.  However, once a judge authorizes an abortion based on a finding that it is in her best interests, the attending physician must notify the young woman's authorized person of the intent to provide the procedure, unless such notice is not in the young woman's best interests.  The judge must find that notice is not in the best interests of the young woman, if one or more authorized persons with whom she resides is abusive or neglectful, or that every other authorized person is either abusive or neglectful or has refused to accept responsibility for her.

Are there other significant requirements under the law?  No.

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

Other information about the law:  None.

Va. Code Ann. § 16.1-241(V) (Original Statute Enacted 1973; Relevant Provision Enacted 1997; Last Amended 2012).

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