By Paul Stark
Editor’s note. My family will be on vacation through the end of next week. I will be posting an occasional new story, but for the most part we will be re-posting columns that ran over the last year. Many will be strictly educational while some will about remind us of notable victories this legislative cycle.
MINNEAPOLIS — Teen abortions in Minnesota have declined dramatically since the state enacted a law requiring parental notification before minors undergo abortions. June 25 is the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Minnesota’s parental notification requirement.
The law (MN Statute 144.343), strongly supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), was passed by the Legislature with large bipartisan majorities in 1981. It requires that both parents be notified at least 48 hours before an abortion is performed on a minor girl. The measure includes a judicial bypass procedure, which is required by the courts, and exceptions for rare cases.
Minnesota’s law was in place until 1986, when it was enjoined by a federal district court. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled on June 25, 1990, in the case of Hodgson v. Minnesota, upholding both the two-parent and 48-hour requirements. The law went back into effect that year.
“Our Minnesota law and the Supreme Court decision affirming it helped open the floodgates for more state parental involvement laws,” commented MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. “Strong evidence shows that these laws in other states, among other factors, reduce the incidence of teen abortions.”
The annual number of minor abortions in Minnesota peaked at 2,327 in 1980, the year before the parental notification law first went into effect. Teen abortions then began to steadily decline. Since 1989, the last full year before the Supreme Court ruling, abortions performed on minors have dropped 79 percent. In 2013 (the latest year for which data is available), minor abortions fell to 295, the lowest number on record (statistics for minors go back to 1975) and only 3 percent of all abortions.
Despite broad public support for parental involvement laws, they are opposed by abortion advocacy groups. Planned Parenthood has fought against parents who want to be informed before an abortion is performed on their minor daughter at an unlicensed facility. Planned Parenthood has also fought against state oversight of abortion centers, which remain unlicensed and uninspected in Minnesota.
“Parental involvement laws don’t just save unborn lives from abortion,” noted Fischbach. “They reflect the commonsense principle that parents are responsible for their kids and that kids need their parents. To exclude parents, especially at a time of crisis, would be a tremendous disservice to children. Yet that is precisely what Planned Parenthood wants to do.”
Editor’s note. Mr. Stark is Communications Associate for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, NRLC’s state affiliate.