The question of whether a young woman should be allowed to terminate a pregnancy without her parents’ knowledge has been one of the most contentious issues of the post Roe v. Wade era. Parental involvement laws reach to the core of the parent-teen relationship in the highly contested realm of adolescent sexuality. This is the first book to examine in thorough detail the decision-making experiences of teens considering abortion. Shoshanna Ehrlich evaluates the Supreme Court’s efforts to reconcile the historically based understanding of teens as dependent persons in need of protection with a more contemporary understanding of them as autonomous individuals with adult-like claims to constitutional recognition.
Arriving at a compromise, the Court has made clear that, like adult women, teens have a protected right of choice, but that states may impose a parental involvement requirement. However, so that parents are not vested with veto power over their daughters’ decisions, young women must be allowed to seek a waiver of the requirement. Integrating a wealth of social science literature, including in-depth interviews with 26 young women from Massachusetts who obtained court authorization for an abortion, the book raises important questions about the logic of a legal approach that requires young women to involve adults when they seek to terminate a pregnancy, but that allows them to make a decision to become mothers on their own.