The effect of parental involvement laws on the timing of teenagers’ abortions
Awarded 2009
Small Research Grants
Shana Judge, JD
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

This study examines the impact of state parental involvement laws on pregnant minors who seek abortions, focusing on the laws’ effect on fetal gestational age at the time of the procedure. The study uses a regression discontinuity design to analyze individual-level data on induced abortions reported to the National Center for Health Statistics by 14 states in selected years. Results show that in Rhode Island and Kansas, two states implementing parental involvement laws during the time period studied, the laws were associated with statistically significant average delays in minors’ abortions of about 3.5 days in Rhode Island and about five days in Kansas. However, only a subset of these minors was directly affected by the law because many teens on the population studied would have discussed the procedure with their parents regardless of the law’s presence. Thus, delays in Kansas and Rhode Island were likely greater for those teens who did not involve their parents. Results from two states without parental involvement laws – Oregon and Vermont – showed no gestational delays in minors’ abortions during the same time period.