HARTFORD—In its eleventh annual State of Abortion in Connecticut report the Connecticut Catholic Conference, which is the public policy office of the Catholic Bishops in Connecticut, calls for adoption of a parental notification law similar to the laws passed in forty-three other states, including the bordering states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The report also highlights that abortions in Connecticut have declined by 33.6% since 2008, reflective of the national trend. The largest decline of any age group was 72% among minors under 18 years of age. The abortion rate for all age groups declined from 20.9 to 13.9 abortions per 1000 women.
Connecticut remains one of seven states that has never adopted a parental notification law relating to a teen receiving an abortion. A teenage girl can receive an abortion in Connecticut without a parent or guardian being notified or asked to give their consent. In 2017, based on Connecticut Department of Health information, four twelve-year-old girls received abortions in our state. However, there is no process in place to ensure that these cases are reported to legal authorities as required by mandatory reporting laws. Under current state law an abortion provider in Connecticut, whose major source of revenue is from performing abortions, has tremendous influence on a teen who comes seeking their assistance. There is no current requirement for an adult to be involved, such as a parent, who is more mature and has the best interest of the teen as their primary focus. Although abortion rights advocates argue against the implementation of laws requiring parental involvement, public opinion polls show strong support for these types of laws.
Connecticut Department of Public Health information shows that 89% of the teens coming into the state for abortions between 2004 and 2017 came from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These states have strict parental notification laws. Only 7% came from New York, which does not have a parental notification law. This shows a clear intention by teens, and possibly the men who impregnate them, to avoid the parental notification laws in their home states by coming to Connecticut.
Michael C. Culhane, the Executive Director of the Conference, stated, “The time has come for the Connecticut legislature to have a serious discussion about this issue. The increasing concern about the sexual abuse and harassment of women in our society should tend to support a parental notification law. Although there may be exceptions, parents still remain the best protectors of their children. Parents must give consent for a teen for many medical services or to participate in school activities. It seems that these rules should apply to a minor receiving an abortion.”
Current state law requires that a minor be given counseling prior to receiving an abortion. However, two facts revealed in this report raise concerns about how consciously this law is followed by abortion providers.
First, the report lists several examples of the sexual assault of minors in Connecticut over the last several years that were never reported to authorities by abortion providers. How in-depth and comprehensive is the counseling provided if these cases, and potentially many others, were not flagged by the counselor? Although it is a small number, these stories do raise questions about whether mandatory reporting requirements are taken seriously by abortion providers.
Second, many times the documentation required by state regulation to be submitted to the Department of Public Health when an abortion is performed fails to include the age of the person receiving the abortion and the gestation period of the baby being aborted. This is basic information that every medical professional should know about their patients. How could a provider who seriously cares about their patient not have taken the time to learn this basic information?
The passage of a parental notification law in Connecticut is a step in the right direction to ensure that the physical and mental health of minors seeking an abortion are protected in our state.
The information contained in this report has been compiled and made available to the members of the Connecticut General Assembly and to the general public. It uses abortion data for the last ten years up to 2017, which is the most current data available.