Two researchers claim that laws requiring the consent of both parents before their child can have an abortion are linked with less risky teen sexual behavior. The researchers say that teens that have to request parental permission for an abortion are less likely to engage in unsafe sexual practices in the first place.
Researchers Jonathan Klick and Thomas Stratmann arrived at this conclusion after looking at the declining rates of gonorrhea among teenage girls where abortion notification laws were in effect. The researchers linked the notification laws with a drop in gonorrhea rates by as much as 20 percent among Hispanic girls and 12 percent for white girls, despite having little impact on the behavior of black girls.
"This suggests that Hispanic and white teenage girls are forward looking in their sex decisions, and they systematically view informing their parents and obtaining parental consent as additional costs in obtaining an abortion, inducing them to engage in less risky sex when parental involvement laws are adopted," Klick says.
They also claim that it's not likely teens are merely avoiding sexual activities that could result in a pregnancy, such as oral or anal sex, as these can also lead to gonorrhea. To this end, the researchers say that notification laws not only reduce chances of unwanted pregnancies, but also have the added bonus of reducing sexually transmitted diseases.
"Incentives matter," Klick says. "They matter even in activities as primal as sex, and they matter even among teenagers, who are conventionally thought to be short-sighted. If the expected costs of risky sex are raised, teens will substitute less risky activities such as protected sex or abstinence."
Source: Florida State University