Girls under age 16 who seek an abortion will have to notify a parent or seek judicial bypass prior to terminating a pregnancy, thanks to a new ballot measure that passed Tuesday night in Montana. The notification must be done 48 hours before an abortion is performed, or the physician will be fined $500 and receive a six month jail sentence.
Advocates for the notification bill claim that the requirement is to keep younger teens safe from “invasive” procedures like abortions. But by adding on new requirements and waiting periods, they would in fact be increasing the likelihood of complications by causing younger teens to wait until later in their pregnancies to terminate, due to the additional hoops required to notify a parent or wait for a birthday so it isn’t required.
In a statement, Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said:
“This new law is not only clearly unconstitutional under Montana’s state constitution, it will no doubt put the state’s most vulnerable young women—who are already faced with difficult or even dangerous circumstances—at even greater risk.These young women would be better served by efforts to provide increased access to health care and by education about how to avoid unintended pregnancies, not by bigger roadblocks in the way of their critical health care.”
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Those who are 16 or older will not be required to notify their parents. Anti-choice advocates in Montana attempted to pass a similar bill in 1995 that actually required a higher bar—parental consent for all minors seeking abortion—but this was struck down as unconstitutional. By limiting the age to 16 years of age and younger, anti-choice politicians hope the bill would pass a court challenge.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008 only 43 girls under the age of 16 received abortions in Montana, the most recent data available.