Get Real! She’s Under 18, How Can She Get an Abortion?

Heather Corinna

If your girlfriend is pregnant, and does decide abortion is her best choice, having someone with her and having it paid for may be less than she needs: those are but the bare basics.

Anonymous asks:

girlfriend is 17, and I am 19. We had unprotected sex a few days after
she finished her period. I know its foolish to not use protection,
however we both decided we didn’t want anything in between us. I made
certain that I didn’t ejaculate inside her. She might be pregnant, but
right now I’m really just looking at all the options. The state we live
in, Virginia, requires one parent to be notified of a decision to get
an abortion. However, in Washington D.C. there are no rules saying a
minor has to contact or notify her parents or anything. I’ve read that
it is illegal to transport or drive the minor across state lines to get
an abortion. Is that true? If yes, could she drive the car and I be a
passenger? Or follow her in my car? If she is pregnant, I know she
wouldn’t want to get her abortion alone… so what is the current laws
on this? I have the money to pay for it!

Heather replies:

first briefly review the state of things in the states when it comes to
minors and access to abortion, since you’re hardly the only person who
has ever asked about this. Worldwide access would be a way bigger
piece, but sound information on global access can be found in this bibilography.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:


(If you prefer to get right to what your options are and what I
think your risk here was first, scroll down the page a bit. Then you
can pop back up here to find out more about the laws and policies in

The National Women’s Law Center has a fantastic page of legal issues regarding abortion access overall which is fantastic here.
I want to outline some of what it includes about abortion access for
minors, but you can take a look at that page yourself for more

Currently, 27 states require parental consent to abortion for women
under 18. Those are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Missouri,
Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah,
Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Parental consent means that a young
women will have to have at least one parent or guardian give her
permission in order to have an abortion, and that a doctor legally
requires that permission in order to provide that woman with an

16 states restrict young women’s access to abortion by requiring
parental notice. Those are Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa,
Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, MN, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada,
Oklahoma, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Parental notice means that
at least one parent or guardian of a young women will be notified about
her abortion. She will not need their permission — in other words,
even if they say she can’t have one, they cannot legally stop her from
terminating — but her abortion cannot and will not be kept private
from her parents or guardians.

In both cases, there is also something called a Judicial Bypass.
That is the option for a young woman to go through the courts to obtain
legal permission to have an abortion without parental notification or
consent. To do that, she will need to first contact a local abortion
provider to get information she needs on it. Then, she will have to
hire an attorney and they’ll file her case. When her case comes up, it
is a private hearing — there isn’t a jury or anything — and what the
judge will do is make a determination on if she is mature enough to
make her own decision about her pregnancy. This blog entry from has a fantastic, simple list, state-by-state, of a young woman’s first steps in seeking out a Judicial Bypass.

Obviously, going through the courts is hardly ideal. Terminating a
pregnancy is a time-sensitive issue — and providers and states differ
in terms of how late in a pregnancy they will do a termination — and
sometimes court cases can take a while to come up. Even finding the
money to pay the lawyer and any court fees can be tough, and the longer
a woman waits to get an abortion, the more it costs, to boot. As well,
some women don’t feel the same about abortion at all stages of a
pregnancy. For example, a woman who feels comfortable terminating at
six weeks may not feel the same way about terminating at 12 or 18
weeks. Some simply will not want to have to defend their right to make
their own reproductive choices for any number of reasons.

Some states also have laws or policies around a minor being
transported to another state for a procedure, and/or who transports the
minor. As well, in some states it is unlawful for an adult who is not a
relative of the minor, or does not have parental permission from a
parent or guardian, to transport a minor out of state for any number of

I personally have very strong objections to most of these laws and
policies as they relate to reproductive rights. I feel they endanger
young women and are also a big infringement on young women’s most basic
human rights. However, they exist, and while we can fight them — and I
encourage anyone who cares about sound and humane reproductive rights to do that — until or unless we can get them struck down, abortion access is limited and defined by them whether we like it or not.

What does this mean to you, specifically? I am unclear on if
it would be criminal for you to drive her out of state, either for an
abortion or any other purpose. I should also note that In Virginia, the
age of consent is 18, and it is not lawful for anyone over 18 to have
sex with a minor in the first place, and the fact that you have already
broken that law may influence your risks in this.

I think it is also possible that this section of the laws of
Virginia around the age of consent could present possible issues for
you per transporting her out of state for an abortion:

§ 18.2-371. Causing or encouraging acts rendering children delinquent, abused, etc.; penalty; abandoned infant.

Any person 18 years of age or older, including the parent of any
child, who (i) willfully contributes to, encourages, or causes any act,
omission, or condition which renders a child delinquent, in need of
services, in need of supervision, or abused or neglected as defined in
§ 16.1-228, or (ii) engages in consensual sexual intercourse with a
child 15 or older not his spouse, child, or grandchild, shall be guilty
of a Class 1 misdemeanor. This section shall not be construed as
repealing, modifying, or in any way affecting §§ 18.2-18, 18.2-19,
18.2-61, 18.2-63, 18.2-66, and 18.2-347.

She could, however, absolutely drive herself and/or go with another
friend who is also under 18 to D.C. for a termination out-of-state. She
also could seek permission from one of her parents or seek out a
judicial bypass so she could terminate in Virginia.

No matter what, she’d start by calling her local abortion
provider first for information if, again, an abortion is what she
wanted. Your local abortion provider is also the best person to get
information from about all of your local laws and policies.

You say she "might" be pregnant. If it has been less than 120 hours
since this risk and she wants to prevent a pregnancy, she has the
option of using emergency contraception. Given you are over 18, one way
you can help if she wants that is to go and get it from a pharmacy. It
is an over-the-counter (though you need to ask a pharmacist for it)
medication for legal adults that does not require a prescription. Or,
she can get a prescription for herself through her general doctor, her
sexual healthcare provider, a walk-in clinic or a hospital emergency
room. It does sound like while you used condoms incorrectly, you did
use withdrawal correctly. Withdrawal isn’t one of the best methods of
contraception — in typical use, it’s one of the least effective — but
it is a method, and if you did use it perfectly, her risk of pregnancy
was probably moderate or low. I still tend to suggest emergency
contraception with withdrawal, especially for young women who tend to
be more fertile than the rest of us.

The risks of sexually transmitted infections are also at play here:
don’t forget about managing those. I’d suggest both of you schedule a
full screening in the next month or two.

If it is too late for emergency contraception, or she doesn’t want
to use it, then she (and you) will want to first start with a pregnancy
test if her period is late or it has been at least two weeks or so
since her risk. If that much time hasn’t passed yet, you’ll both need
to wait until then. When that time has come, if her test is positive,
then it’s time for her to consider her options, based on what she feels
is best for herself and her life. You don’t say anything in your post
about what she wants, so I don’t know if abortion is what she would
choose for herself: this is her choice, not yours. So we’re clear, you
made your own reproductive choices when it came to deciding if you were
or were not going to have a kind of sex with a risk of pregnancy, and
then in choosing that, in opting not to use condoms properly. If she
were to decide to remain pregnant and seek out an adoptive family, you
have the option of consenting to that or not (though the fact that the
sex was statutory rape may remove that right in some courts), and if
she were to decide to parent, while you don’t have a choice per some
financial support, it is up to you whether or not you actively
co-parent. But from here on out, much of the rest of these choices are
hers, which is sensible since the burden of a pregnancy is also far
more hers than yours.

But she should start with that pregnancy test first. I know how
scary a possible pregnancy can be, but it only makes so much sense to
get in a tizzy about options and limitations before a pregnancy has
even been verified.

From here forward, as I mention in our Sexual Readiness Checklist,
I think it’s really important to make sexual choices with these
policies and laws in mind, as well as numerous other considerations.
Anyone will want to be sure that any choice we make in life is one
we’re making where we feel we can live with all the possible

Maybe you two were not aware of these restrictions before you made
your choices. Whether you were or were not, you are now, and I think
it’s a good idea to consider them from here on out. For now, let’s set
aside the age of consent issue: I do that because it is simply so
common for those laws to be broken that talking about them in the midst
of this is going to sidetrack too much. In short though, I’d suggest
you, particularly as an adult, abide by those laws.

For now, let’s address the issues of pregnancy risks and presume
we’re talking about a sexual scenario which is within the bounds of the

If your girlfriend does not want to or is not ready to become
pregnant AND give birth OR if she either does not want to or cannot
procure a parent or guardian’s permission should she want an abortion
— given the laws of her state — then at the very least, it’s not very
wise for either of you (or for her, with any partner) to be ditching
birth control methods or using them improperly. Properly condom use
requires a condom being on for all direct genital contact, not just

I want to bring up something I think is important. While you two are
close in age, the fact that you are a legal adult and she is a minor
creates a pretty profound difference between you.
You have agency and rights that she doesn’t have. That means you have
more freedoms, options and choices than she does, which you already did
in the first place because she’s the one who can become pregnant, not
you. The differences that both your sex (being male) and your age
present are things to give some serious thought to in your sexual
choices. She’s more vulnerable than you in many ways, even if in other
respects there are equalities in your relationship. That doesn’t make
you responsible for taking care of her like a parent would, but any
time we have more freedoms than someone else, that tends to mean we
should shoulder more responsibilities, too.

In other words, in a few ways, it’s more on you than her to say, "Hey,
latex is just latex, not the Great Wall of China. I can be just as
close to you with a condom on as without, and also keep anything way
bigger from coming between us, like an infection, a pregnancy or the
crazymaking of a pregnancy scare. I love that you want to be close to
me, but closeness is more about our heads and our hearts than anything
else. So for now, let’s stay smart and safe. You could look into
getting another method of birth control for later, like the pill or
something else, and we can both also go and get tested to be sure
neither of us doesn’t have any infections, so eventually we can go
without condoms if we still want that."
Legally, you ARE the
grownup here, not her (no matter what you or I think about defining
adulthood based on nothing but someone’s age), and so it’s important
that you…well, act like one. Now, ideally, you’d BOTH be bringing
those kind of smarts to the table, so I also think it’s a good idea to
think about if both of you really are ready and able to make smart
choices about sex, including in the heat of the moment, which can be a
challenge sometimes. Even if we are, it’s also our
responsibility — any of us, no matter our age — to choose to only
have sex with partners who are, too. Bear in mind, too, that often we
look to our partners to make our best choices with us, and rely on
partners to give us a reality check when we’re thinking about doing
something stupid, rather than enabling us in it. And many young women
have a tough time being assertive about condoms if their male partners
aren’t on board.

I also want to make sure you know that for many women, abortion
isn’t casual, nor just about having the money or the access to it.
While some women who terminate feel relief and at peace, some women
find abortion to be emotionally difficult or traumatic. For some who
know that parenting or surrendering a child for adoption are not likely
best for them in many respects, they still may feel that abortion isn’t
a choice they want to make or feel good making, either. Being pregnant
is usually a pretty big deal, no matter what choice we make about it
(multiply your own fears and worries right now by about 300 and you can
perhaps see how big a deal), and getting to our best choice isn’t often easy or pat.

If your girlfriend is pregnant, and does decide abortion in her best
choice and the one she wants to make, having someone with her, having
it paid for and being able to have it may be less than she needs: those
are but the bare basics. She may need extra emotional support over
time, she may need help caring for herself afterwards, she may feel
angry with you in some ways or not want you around for a while, she may
find that either a pregnancy and/or an abortion makes her feel
differently about sex than she used to. She may want to take her time
making up her mind, and talk through all of her possible options with
you and/or others. What she wants may be in conflict with what you
want, or she may even decide that she doesn’t want you involved in any
of this at all. These are all things to bear in mind when talking about
abortion for her or, in my book, for any woman when you’re a man.

I am absolutely supportive of male partners doing what they can to
help out, so if you’re here asking me about this after talking with her
about her feelings and what she’d want, and seeking out information
based on what she has voiced, that’s fantastic and very caring. But if
you two haven’t initiated this together, I’d suggest you talk with her
first before doing any more research on her behalf as again, this is her
(potential) pregnancy. And no matter what happens with this scare, I
hope that you’ll give some deep thought to what I have said here about
future sexual choices, initiate discussions with her about them, and
that both of you make wiser choices from here on out which are as
aligned as possible with what you both can handle, what you both want
in the big picture and what really is best for the both of you at this
point in your lives.

Here are a few more links to grow on:

News Abortion

Anti-Choice Leader to Remove Himself From Medical Board Case in Ohio

Michelle D. Anderson

In a letter to the State of Ohio Medical Board, representatives from nine groups shared comments made by Gonidakis and said he lacked the objectivity required to remain a member of the medical board. The letter’s undersigned said the board should take whatever steps necessary to force Gonidakis’ resignation if he failed to resign.

Anti-choice leader Mike Gonidakis said Monday that he would remove himself from deciding a complaint against a local abortion provider after several groups asked that he resign as president of the State of Ohio Medical Board.

The Associated Press first reported news of Gonidakis’ decision, which came after several pro-choice groups said he should step down from the medical board because he had a conflict of interest in the pending complaint.

The complaint, filed by Dayton Right to Life on August 3, alleged that three abortion providers working at Women’s Med Center in Dayton violated state law and forced an abortion on a patient that was incapable of withdrawing her consent due to a drug overdose.

Ohio Right to Life issued a news release the same day Dayton Right to Life filed its complaint, featuring a quotation from its executive director saying that local pro-choice advocates forfeit “whatever tinge of credibility” it had if it refused to condemn what allegedly happened at Women’s Med Center.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:


Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life, had then forwarded a copy of the news release to ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis with a note saying, “Sandy…. Will you finally repudiate the industry for which you so proudly support? So much for ‘women’s health’. So sad.”

On Friday, ProgressOhio, along with eight other groupsDoctors for Health Care Solutions, Common Cause Ohio, the Ohio National Organization for Women, Innovation Ohio, the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, the National Council of Jewish Women, Democratic Voices of Ohio, and Ohio Voice—responded to Gonidakis’ public and private commentary by writing a letter to the medical board asking that he resign.

In the letter, representatives from those groups shared comments made by Gonidakis and said he lacked the objectivity required to remain a member of the medical board. The letter’s undersigned said the board should take whatever steps necessary to force Gonidakis’ resignation if he failed to resign.

Contacted for comment, the medical board did not respond by press time.

The Ohio Medical Board protects the public by licensing and regulating physicians and other health-care professionals in part by reviewing complaints such as the one filed by Dayton Right to Life.

The decision-making body includes three non-physician consumer members and nine physicians who serve five-year terms when fully staffed. Currently, 11 citizens serve on the board.

Gonidakis, appointed in 2012 by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, is a consumer member of the board and lacks medical training.

Theis told Rewire in a telephone interview that the letter’s undersigned did not include groups like NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood in its effort to highlight the conflict with Gonidakis.

“We wanted it to be about ethics” and not about abortion politics, Theis explained to Rewire.

Theis said Gonidakis had publicly condemned three licensed doctors from Women’s Med Center without engaging the providers or hearing the facts about the alleged incident.

“He put his point out there on Main Street having only heard the view of Dayton Right to Life,” Theis said. “In court, a judge who does something like that would have been thrown off the bench.”

Arthur Lavin, co-chairman of Doctors for Health Care Solutions, told the Associated Press the medical board should be free from politics.

Theis said ProgressOhio also exercised its right to file a complaint with the Ohio Ethics Commission to have Gonidakis removed because Theis had first-hand knowledge of his ethical wrongdoing.

The 29-page complaint, obtained by Rewire, details Gonidakis’ association with anti-choice groups and includes a copy of the email he sent to Theis.

Common Cause Ohio was the only group that co-signed the letter that is decidedly not pro-choice. A policy analyst from the nonpartisan organization told the Columbus Dispatch that Common Cause was not for or against abortion, but had signed the letter because a clear conflict of interest exists on the state’s medical board.

News Politics

Missouri ‘Witch Hunt Hearings’ Modeled on Anti-Choice Congressional Crusade

Christine Grimaldi

Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) said the Missouri General Assembly's "witch hunt hearings" were "closely modeled" on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans' special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life.

Congressional Republicans are responsible for perpetuating widely discredited and often inflammatory allegations about fetal tissue and abortion care practices for a year and counting. Their actions may have charted the course for at least one Republican-controlled state legislature to advance an anti-choice agenda based on a fabricated market in aborted “baby body parts.”

“They say that a lot in Missouri,” state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) told Rewire in an interview at the Democratic National Convention last month.

Newman is a longtime abortion rights advocate who proposed legislation that would subject firearms purchases to the same types of restrictions, including mandatory waiting periods, as abortion care.

Newman said the Missouri General Assembly’s “witch hunt hearings” were “closely modeled” on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans’ special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life. Both formed last year in response to videos from the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donations. Both released reports last month condemning the reproductive health-care provider even though Missouri’s attorney general, among officials in 13 states to date, and three congressional investigations all previously found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:


Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R), the chair of the committee, and his colleagues alleged that the report potentially contradicted the attorney general’s findings. Schaefer’s district includes the University of Missouri, which ended a 26-year relationship with Planned Parenthood as anti-choice state lawmakers ramped up their inquiries in the legislature. Schaefer’s refusal to confront evidence to the contrary aligned with how Newman described his leadership of the committee.

“It was based on what was going on in Congress, but then Kurt Schaefer took it a step further,” Newman said.

As Schaefer waged an ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the Missouri Republican attorney general primary, the once moderate Republican “felt he needed to jump on the extreme [anti-choice] bandwagon,” she said.

Schaefer in April sought to punish the head of Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis affiliate with fines and jail time for protecting patient documents he had subpoenaed. The state senate suspended contempt proceedings against Mary Kogut, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, reaching an agreement before the end of the month, according to news reports.

Newman speculated that Schaefer’s threats thwarted an omnibus abortion bill (HB 1953, SB 644) from proceeding before the end of the 2016 legislative session in May, despite Republican majorities in the Missouri house and senate.

“I think it was part of the compromise that they came up with Planned Parenthood, when they realized their backs [were] against the wall, because she was not, obviously, going to illegally turn over medical records.” Newman said of her Republican colleagues.

Republicans on the select panel in Washington have frequently made similar complaints, and threats, in their pursuit of subpoenas.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the chair of the select panel, in May pledged “to pursue all means necessary” to obtain documents from the tissue procurement company targeted in the CMP videos. In June, she told a conservative crowd at the faith-based Road to Majority conference that she planned to start contempt of Congress proceedings after little cooperation from “middle men” and their suppliers—“big abortion.” By July, Blackburn seemingly walked back that pledge in front of reporters at a press conference where she unveiled the select panel’s interim report.

The investigations share another common denominator: a lack of transparency about how much money they have cost taxpayers.

“The excuse that’s come back from leadership, both [in the] House and the Senate, is that not everybody has turned in their expense reports,” Newman said. Republicans have used “every stalling tactic” to rebuff inquiries from her and reporters in the state, she said.

Congressional Republicans with varying degrees of oversight over the select panel—Blackburn, House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (MI)—all declined to answer Rewire’s funding questions. Rewire confirmed with a high-ranking GOP aide that Republicans budgeted $1.2 million for the investigation through the end of the year.

Blackburn is expected to resume the panel’s activities after Congress returns from recess in early September. Schaeffer and his fellow Republicans on the committee indicated in their report that an investigation could continue in the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January.


Vote for Rewire and Help Us Earn Money

Rewire is in the running for a CREDO Mobile grant. More votes for Rewire means more CREDO grant money to support our work. Please take a few seconds to help us out!


Thank you for supporting our work!