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I’m pregnant and considering having an abortion. How do I tell my parents? Can I get an abortion without my parents knowing if I’m under 18?

Many states have laws that require minors—girls under 18—to get a parent’s permission before having an abortion. This is called parental consent.

If a minor wants an abortion and doesn’t want to involve her parents, and she lives in a state that requires parental permission for an abortion or parental notification that she is going to have an abortion, there is another option. She can go before a judge, and the judge can give permission instead of the parent(s) or guardian(s). This is called judicial bypass. The hotline run by the National Abortion Federationcan be very help you learn about your rights: 1-800-772-9100.

Some states require teens to wait a certain period of time between making the decision to have an abortion and actually getting it. This is called a waiting period.

To find out the laws in your state, go to Sexetc.org’s Sex in the States or visit NARAL Pro-Choice America’s website.

If you decide to tell your parent(s) or guardian(s), find a time and place where you can talk privately with them. You can bring a friend or other adult along to support you if you think that might make it easier for you. Start by saying you have something very important to tell them. You can also say that it’s taken a lot of courage for you to be honest with them. Then, just tell them.

Parents or guardians of teenagers have a variety of reactions to news of a pregnancy. When you’re ready to tell them, you may have had some time to adjust to the idea of pregnancy yourself. Your parent(s) or guardian(s) may need a similar adjustment period. In the end, the majority of parents or guardians want what is best for their child, and when it comes to a pregnancy, it’s no different. Check out Mom, Dad, I’m Pregnant to get some more ideas about how to approach this conversation with your family.

You know your parent(s) or guardian(s) and your situation the best, and while many girls will feel nervous or scared about having this conversation with their parent(s) or guardian(s), some may have a sense that it’s not safe or doesn’t feel right for them to talk to their immediate family. If you feel like it would be unsafe to talk about your pregnancy with your immediate family, it might help to talk with another trusted adult—like a teacher, counselor, health care professional, community leader or relative—about your situation. Sometimes having the support of another adult, either in person or just emotionally, can help assure that you stay safe.

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