More than a year after SCOTUS overturned federal protections for abortion, the ramifications for abortion access have become clearer. For young people, increasing abortion restrictions could disproportionately impact their reproductive health choices.
While restrictions affect all people seeking abortion, young people face additional logistical and legal obstacles, including current policy efforts that are now capitalizing on public narratives about the need to “protect” young people. For example, legislators in Idaho, a state that has already banned abortion, recently became the first state to criminalize assisting a person aged less than 18 years in traveling out of state to get a wanted abortion. In reality, past and current research highlights the ways in which adolescents could be disproportionally affected by these policies and abortion restrictions. Researchers Lauren J. Ralph, PhD, MPH, and Lee Hasselbacher, JD, outline this research, in an editorial for the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Recent policy developments should raise alarm among adolescent health advocates, providers, and researchers, especially considering that there is new research that shows young people are largely nervous about and anticipate negative consequences of removing federal protections on abortion. They recognize that their reproductive autonomy, as well as their health and safety, are at risk when abortion access is curtailed.
The authors write:
“It is time to listen to, amplify, and respond to the perspectives of young people in the post-Dobbs landscape; otherwise, we risk significant erosion of their health and rights moving forward.”
The article, Adolescents and Abortion Restrictions: Disproportionate Burdens and Critical Warnings, is available in Journal of Adolescent Health.