Research has just been published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health showing that teens can be trusted to make their own reproductive decisions, including the decision to have an abortion. It also shows that young people needlessly navigate abortion stigma. Jane’s Due Process took part in this research, with researchers interviewing 20 Texas teens who went through the judicial bypass process between 2015 and 2016 — and the results are clear. Young people consider a wide range of factors when making the decision to have an abortion, seek support from people they trust, and anticipate dealing with stigma along the way.

“Teens who seek judicial bypass must navigate many hurdles in order to even make it to court. The strength and resiliency required to navigate the bypass process shows that they are thoughtful and careful as they make reproductive decisions,” says Amanda Stevenson, assistant professor of sociology at CU Boulder and TxPEP researcher. “Policymakers should know that adolescents who seek judicial bypass display careful decision-making and a capacity to correctly assess the risks of involving their parents when considering parental consent laws.”

This TxPEP research comes on the heels of policy analysis just released two weeks ago by Guttmacher that showed that policy makers need to fight back against parental involvement laws for abortion because of the harms these laws cause for young people. This new research also speaks to the harms that young people face when navigating parental consent laws to access abortion. Teens reported experiencing negative reactions from people in their lives, including from people who were ultimately supportive of their decision to have an abortion.

“Our study suggests that policies that force young people to disclose their pregnancy or abortion to a parent in order to obtain abortion care, without regard to their relationship to their parents, are harmful and can expose them to abandonment or abuse from parents,” says Kate Coleman-Minahan, assistant professor in the University of Colorado College of Nursing and researcher at TxPEP.

Jane’s Due Process helps young people in Texas overcome these barriers and provides stigma-free emotional support to lessen the trauma of the judicial bypass process. We’re also fighting to end parental involvement laws because young people deserve true reproductive freedom. We appreciate the researchers doing this important work to show the world what we know from working with youth every single day: Young people can and should be able to make decisions for themselves, their bodies, and their futures.