In Illinois, 14% of persons seeking abortions are under the age of 20.1 Adolescents benefit from targeted and integrated options counseling when they seek abortion care.
Counseling Young People
Pregnancy options counseling for adolescents should adopt a framework of shared decision-making. Those counseling young people should talk to them about their feelings and decision without a parent present and make sure they understand their rights. To ensure youth-friendly care, health and social service providers should offer welcoming, non-judgmental, and safe spaces for young people, where they feel comfortable discussing abortion. Confidentiality, respectful treatment, integrated services, culturally appropriate care, free or low cost services, and easy access are all widely recognized as important components of appropriate clinical services for adolescents and young adults.2
Young People’s Rights
Illinois does have a law which requires notification of an adult family member 48 hours prior to a minor obtaining an abortion, though there are exceptions to this law (see above section Laws Shaping Abortion Access in Illinois). In addition, notification is not the same as consent; parents cannot prevent a minor from obtaining an abortion. It may also be helpful to educate parents about young people's rights. Young people also have the right to continue a pregnancy to term and become a parent and should feel supported in that decision. Pregnant and parenting youth should be empowered to complete their educational goals while caring for their children, navigate their own adolescence, and create a safe and healthy future.
Health and social service providers should also be clear with minors (those under age 18) about confidentiality and its limits so young people know what to expect and do not feel betrayed if a provider is required to report something to a parent or others. Providers serving young people should also have office protocols in place to protect confidentiality when the young person is using a parent’s insurance coverage. Providers can work with young people to ensure billing and other documentation are sent directly to the young person or allowing another means of communication.