General Question

seekingwolf's avatar

If your underage daughter got pregnant, can you legally force her to either abort or adopt out?

Asked by seekingwolf (10387points) June 10th, 2011

Just a question that I thought of today while watching a Dr. Phil rerun.

This is assuming that the daughter is underage (under the age of consent) and thus has no legal say yet.

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43 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

No, you cannot do either. That’s why parental consent laws regarding abortion are pernicious. The girl retains the control of her own body. Even if she is under the age of consent, she still has rights.

A parent could not force a child into an invasive elective surgical procedure. And they cannot sign away her parental rights t the baby.

seekingwolf's avatar

Okay I wasn’t sure if such laws applied to underage kids

On a related note, if a parent has an underage daughter who is very at risk for getting knocked up (ie “I want a baby!!”) could the parent force the daughter to be on the shot or something to stop pregnancy? Like drag them to the doctor’s office once every few months to have the shot even against their will do they can’t get pregnant even if they tried?

seekingwolf's avatar

Cause to be honest, if I had a teen daughter who wanted a baby and wouldn’t listen to reason, I would force her to have the shot so she wouldn’t screw up her life or the possible baby’s life, plus mine because I’d have to support the child since she’s still a minor. If it were legal to force her on BC, I’d do it.

marinelife's avatar

@seekingwolf It is poor parenting to resort to such a step. Why not have your parental values instilled in a more positive way so that a child does not want to raise a baby while a teen?

seekingwolf's avatar

I’m not a parent and not planning to be one. It’s hypothetical.

I went to private school with a girl who was raised very well but go baby fever when she was 16 and got knocked up against her parents’ wishes. What a waste of potential.

I wouldn’t want to take chances. This girl didn’t used to want to be a mom but then changed her mind. And now the parents and their new baby are screwed.

Surely there must be something that can be done to stop your teen from being stupid.

SpatzieLover's avatar

No. Children are protected under the Bill of Rights.

dannyc's avatar

I hope not. If you have to legally force your kids to do anything, in my opinion, you are quite likely a lousy parent.

seekingwolf's avatar

I’m not so sure. Some kids just end up messed up despite parenting. What can you do?

Jellie's avatar

I have to agree with @seekingwolf there. Not about forcing my child to get injections but the fact that no matter what you do some children just end up messed. I mean you’ll see it b/w siblings that get more or less the same kind of upbringing but one will make clever choices (like my sister) while the other will be an idiot (me)

seekingwolf's avatar

Yeah it makes me sad. :(

My boyfriend’s friend is like that. Insanely rich family raises him and his sister. His sister is very good and successful and happy. What about him? He does drugs all the time.

Why is that? Are the parents to blame? He’s 19 now and refuses help.

Jellie's avatar

That’s a sad story. It’s the whole nurture v nature debate. There is a bit of you that comes as a factory default setting I guess and that you can’t shake off no matter whatever external influences are used.

seekingwolf's avatar

It is. :( So sad. I’ve met his parents too and they are just sad about it.

I guess you really only have very little control.

ninjacolin's avatar

Plain and simple: Nurture is what creates a child’s nature. If you raise a child who behaves a certain way, you have to understand that your influence in their lives amounts to the decisions they will make but only in large part. A smaller but still significant part of their lives have been influenced by other factors. You never know what moral lessons a child picks up from from their friends, from tv, at the playground, while reading books, while ruminating privately before bed..

Neither having a child nor doing drugs necessarily means the child’s life is ruined. They may make excellent choices still from within those interests. It’s more like a child deciding to become a mechanic instead of a doctor as you had hoped. There’s nothing inherently wrong with either option and a great life can come out of it either way… as long as they’ve learned a sufficient amount of supplemental lessons to help them make positive decisions moving forward with those larger life choices.

Nimis's avatar

I’m not saying that it’s always the parents’ fault, but one parenting style may work with one kid and not the other.

Every kid is different and will have different needs. Are the parents flexible enough to provide A for one and B for another?

Success with one child does not mean that failure with another is the child’s fault.

And coming from an “insanely rich” family doesn’t exactly equate to a good upbringing.

seekingwolf's avatar

Well the kids went to good private schools and the mom was stay at home so she could support them. Quite a good life.

The “drugs” include drinking to passing out each night and amphetamines. Sounds pretty life ruining to me. And sorry, if you have a kid at 16, your life is on the downhill and it can’t be much better for the kid. Anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves.

Nimis's avatar

A lot of parents yell at their kids. You have food and a roof over your head. And parents who love you. What problems do you have?

Parents that understood you would be nice. For better or for worse, we’ve evolved beyond the simple desire for food and shelter.

Sure, it’d be nice to plan things. But life can be messy. My sister is a single mother (unplanned pregnancy). But my niece is awesome and has brought so much joy to her mother (and everyone around her). I don’t think we could have planned for a better outcome.

Yes, my sister has given up many opportunities. But my niece is so worth it.

seekingwolf's avatar

It must be a combination of both the kids’ nature and the parents’ nurturing.

You’re right… You can’t plan things. I have two autistic siblings. Life was hell growing up. My parents certainly didn’t plan for that. :(

Your_Majesty's avatar

Even if I can I won’t do it (and if I have my kid). It’s her child, her own concern and responsibility. I just don’t like that it makes me a “grandma” too soon when it happens.

In the place where I live it’s forbidden to abort any child a woman is having (no matter what the reason is), even with her own decision. Religion took over and manipulated the law here so it’s very unlikely to happen. And getting pregnant in early ages in Islam is fine and even encouraged as long as it’s in marriage condition.

Aethelwine's avatar

@seekingwolf if you have a kid at 16, your life is on the downhill and it can’t be much better for the kid. Anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves.

I’m not suggesting anyone get pregnant at the age of 16, but my SIL had her first child when she was 16. Her daughter just graduated high school and is heading for college this fall. It wasn’t easy, but my SIL was lucky to have the support of her family when raising her daughter. Your life is in the downhill if that’s what you make of it. It doesn’t have to be that way.

seekingwolf's avatar

@Your_Majesty if I may ask, where do you live?

I am infertile from a disease and am on BC but in my area, they have clinics where you can get pills for abortion. It makes me relieved.

@jonsblond I am glad to hear it. I’m sorry for my negative outlook on the subject. I just haven’t heard of anyone doing well since being a child and the having a kid while they are technically still a kid.

My boyfriend is the only exception. His mom had him young but then dumped him to his grandparents. He has grown up very well but does not talk to his mother, his father, or his sister. He chose not to have them in his life because they have major issues.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@seekingwolf I live in Indonesia. Even though it’s against the law for a woman to abort her child there are still many women who ‘secretly’ abort their offspring (God! when will they learn the function of condom).

mrrich724's avatar

OK, my mom had me at 17 years old. She went on to find a great husband career and life. I am a college graduate, and earning more money than my peers in my age group…

So please think before you say that having a kid at a young age fucks up your life! It may for some, but not all (and I would say not even the majority). It’s definitely a generalization, that in my life as well as many of my friends, has been proven wrong.

In fact, I think it is a positive b/c if the mother turns out to be a good parent, there is alot different bonding that can come out of the relationship than when the child is 21 and has a 51 year old mother visiting her in college (just one example), or doing lots of other stuff that happens when you grow up…

seekingwolf's avatar

It may not happen for all but it does for the majority. Just look at the statistics. You’re one of the fortunate ones, thank goodness.

Teen pregnancy is never something to rejoice about. It’s good when the child and mom end up okay but that is usually not what happens so it’s essential that parents do whatever they can (talking, education, shots, pills, more talking) to prevent it.

I’m sorry to hear it, your majesty. I feel abortion should not be used as BC but if people outlaw it, people will do it under the table when they need it and that’s not safe.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@SpatzieLover Source? Normally children have less rights than a POW.

cheebdragon's avatar

That would be pretty fucked up, but no I don’t think they can actually force anyone to get an abortion, social services would probably freak out on any parent willing to go that extreme.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Once a child becomes pregnant, they are considered the parent/legal guardian (for lack of a better term) of the unborn child and able to make legal/medical decisions for the unborn child and eventually the child once it is born. That means that their parents can’t do anything to make them abort the child or give it up for adoption. It doesn’t matter that they are still a child themselves, just that they are now a parent.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I’m honestly having a hard time finding proof that parents can’t force their child to have an abortion. It seems to be largely left up to states. Medical procedures and consent get really tricky when the child becomes a teen – I believe that before the child is 12, the parents can force the kid to have stuff done to them (not just abortion, but can force them to be on psychotropic medication, get an appendix removed, etc). After 12, people start wondering about “informed consent”, and if the child is mature enough to really consent, which is taken largely on a case by case and state by state basis. At 15, children gain much more control – I think, but don’t quote me, that 15 is the age when children start being able to go to the doctor alone and take more control over their medical records. But it’s really a very murky area.

And, of course, even if parents can’t legally force a child to have an abortion or adoption, they can still force them to do things the same way they force them to take Spanish instead of French or eat their lima beans.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Just because parents have a boatload of money, it doesn’t make them good parents. Absentee parenting comes in many forms, including dictatorial parenting. It’s easier to bark and brow-beat, than to listen and analyze.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Seaofclouds's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs There is something called medical emancipation. I’m not sure if it’s in every state, but it basically is when a minor (teenager) can make medical decisions for themselves and their unborn child, but legally they are still under their parents care otherwise. Some places require a court order for the medical emancipation, but some do not. It all depends on the state you live in. In some states, pregnancy of a minor seems to automatically give them the medical emancipation.

keobooks's avatar

This is kind of related, but I remember watching a 16 and pregnant where the kids were very mature about everything and decided to put their child up for adoption. Both sets of future biological grandparents were kind of scuzzy – a dad in and out of prison and I think the mom was an on and off recovering drug addict. The kids on the show loved their parents, but thought they got a lousy deal from their parents being young, uneducated and living a bit wild. I thought it was so awesome that they wanted to put their child up for adoption and make sure that she had a wonderful life.

I thought it was awful, but parents on both sides insisted that the girl keep the baby and raise her at home, dropping out of high school. The girl refused and the mother of the teenager did everything she could to stop the adoption from happening. Apparently it’s MUCH easier for a parent to force their kids to keep the baby rather than forcing them to adopt. The adoption almost fell through because of the pregnant girl’s mom. The show never explained how they finally ended up getting the baby adopted out except that they had to go to some secret location. The teen girl’s mom refused to speak to her after that.

I thought it was so sad that these kids were so together and made such a mature and unselfish decision and their own parents were too immature to respect their wishes.

blueberry_kid's avatar

No, you cannot. It all involves state laws, and her right to her own body. Im honestly not sure of the legal terms, but it was your daughter’s fault she got pregnant. So, if she got an adoption or abortion it would then be her fault. It is her own choices to her own body. No.

Pandora's avatar

I saw the same show today. I do think it does come down to parenting though. Sure some nice parents have problem kids but it doesn’t mean they where great parents. Most of the time parents today are too busy trying to be their childs friend, instead of the parent. True this isn’t always the case but I’ve seen it a lot. It starts from toddler age. I use to work in a daycare center. I knew many parents who were caring and very loving, but who were afraid to instill disappline because they didn’t want their kid to dislike them. Some of the children in the same family would grow up great and others not so great. The reason this happens is because the great kid didn’t have to learn self disappline. This child is naturally more reserved or learns quickly about consequenses. The other child lacks common sense and self control and no matter how much love a parent throws that childs way, they never feel loved because mom and dad don’t set boundries.
When I saw the show, she said something about not feeling apart of the family. Sure step dad seemed like a douche but I think he is fustrated. It seems as if mom feels guilty and feeds into her insecurities by letting her do as she wishes.
I did feel sorry for her because if they had worked harder at resolving her insecurities and probably set real boundries, then she probably wouldn’t have felt the need to start her own family because she was content in being in the family she was in.
No matter what. Now they all suffer. The girl doesn’t seem to have a grip in reality.
As a parent though, I couldn’t make her give up the baby either but I would certainly set a plan into motion for her to finish school and get financially sound to support herself and the child so the child doesn’t have to suffer for her foolishness.

seekingwolf's avatar

I did see that dr Phil episode. Very sad.

I think adoption is a good choice if abortion isn’t one to whatever reason. I would encourage the daughter to adopt out to a more loving family.

The teen I saw in that episode was so out of touch with reality. It made me sad cause she really didn’t seem ready to parent and the kid will suffer. Too late to abort but it angers me that the parents can’t make her adopt out. She’s 16 and wayyyyy out of touch. It’s a disaster waiting to happen and that kid needs a good home instead of living with the emotional, immature, jobless CHILD he was born to. Laws are laws but it makes me sad because I really do feel that the kid is doomed in some ways and it’s not his fault! Its not like he chose to be born to a child with a half baked view of the world and herself. :(

ninjacolin's avatar

What you’re looking for would be a way to gauge competence. Perhaps some sort of government mandated written test or psychological assessment. If you pass the test, then you can have kids. If you fail to pass the government takes your kids away or forces you to abort due to incompetence. Hell, maybe the parents don’t have the competence to know whether you should or not.

So, @seekingwolf, what would be some of the minimum competence indicators that you would require to see in order to have kids?

seekingwolf's avatar


I haven’t the faintest clue, to be honest. I think for sure that ANYONE with a documented history of abuse, whether it be child, elderly, or animal, should NOT have children. As for other indicators, I’m not sure. You have to allow for other people’s differences and ideas on raising their own children because we are all different, but how do we determine those who are actually HARMING the children with their parenting? I’m not sure.

Any ideas?

iamthemob's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs raises some good points about extreme youth and this kind of decision. It is possible that it may be possible for the parent to require the child to have an abortion, but that likely stops at the point where the child is able to fully understand the implications of what is happening to him. It is likely the case, also, that such abortions may be wholly the decision of the parent of the person having the abortion where such a person is medically or legally unable to make their own healthcare decisions (e.g., someone in a coma, or a severely mentally disabled person).

In the case you seem to be asking about, I cannot see a court moving forward with a “forced abortion” in the U.S. If the teen objects, I can’t see a court overruling that person’s objections. I also can’t really see situations where, even if that happened, the case didn’t last long enough to make it moot after a certain point (e.g., the case extending to a point where terminating the pregnancy is no longer legal and/or viable).

As to the adoption thing…that’s trickier. The state is reluctant to take children away from parents, in most cases, but it’s distinctly possible that the parents could have the teen declared an unfit parent, and have a ruling that it would be in the best interests of the child for it to be adopted.

seekingwolf's avatar


Yeah, those are some good points. The question is, how would they determine if the kid is an “unfit” parent. It’s funny that age alone (and I don’t mean 17 or so, I’m talking YOUNG, like 14/15) doesn’t immediately make you unfit. You need other “criteria” which can include:

-drug or substance abuse
-violent crime or activity that could endanger a child
-being legally INSANE for whatever reason

Funny how maturity doesn’t really play a part in it. You can meet none of the above criteria, demonstrate that you “understand consequences” and boom, you can have a child. It has NOTHING to do with emotional maturity, ability to get a job and support the child, raising a child, ability to have healthy relationships so the kid doesn’t get hurt by dad/new boyfriend…

Granted, anyone can be an immature jerk at any age but I do think it’s much more likely that children are this way. Therefore, they have no business bringing children into the world.

Shame that we don’t have rules on this. In the end, not only does society suffer by having to deal with the poor choice, the innocent child suffers as well.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@seekingwolf Ok, first, they wouldn’t be called legally insane – that’s really only for criminal prosecutions. They’d be called psychotic, which is different. Second, it’s actually really, really easy to get your child diagnosed as bipolar, because all you have to do is say they have the symptoms that pretty much all adolescents do – mood swings, irritability, risk-taking, impulsiveness, high energy followed by needing huge amounts of sleep, think the rules don’t apply to them and that the world revolves around them (grandiosity), etc, and of course the key one, psychosis (which you can argue that your teen doesn’t really understand the risks of driving their car so fast, and this qualifies as a delusion because you keep explaining it to them and they keep driving fast….). Then they’ll be diagnosed as 296.x4 (Bipolar I, severe w/psychotic features), probably with some comment about rapid cycling. Bipolar is the really easy, unbelievably common one, but you could probably get them to throw in some Generalized Anxiety Disorder if your teen isn’t a social butterfly and/or Oppositional Defiant Disorder (which pretty much everyone under 18 meets the requirements for, but people are diagnosed with it much less often). If they party (booze/pot) you can get them an addiction diagnosis, and if you go to the right doctor, you can get them a personality disorder.

seekingwolf's avatar

Crazy how that works, huh?

The DSM Version 5 is coming out soon (if it’s not already out) and it’s supposed to stop doctors from diagnosing young kids with such illnesses…but all you really need to do is find a doctor who is willing to make the diagnosis.

Bipolar disorder is funny in the sense that many teens have “symptoms” of it!

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@seekingwolf It’s not out yet. And they’re already not supposed to do it. Personality disorders are really not supposed to, because it’s figured that of course you don’t have a personality (or the one you do have is wonky) until you’re an adult, you aren’t done growing, so that’s not a bad thing – it’s when you’re 62 and still stuck at 16 that there’s a problem. I mean, they’re really not supposed to, and it’s been that way for years, but most of them still do it. Bipolar on kids is my least favorite; I’ve been told by many psychologists that when they hear a diagnosis of bipolar before someone is an adult, they automatically think depression+PTSD from being abused is what’s really going on there. And ODD is really just a way to say “Hey, kids, how dare you not be adults!!”

iamthemob's avatar


There are already standards to determine fitness, so the court would go by those standards…no one, unless extreme, would be determinative.

An extreme example would be where a person is legally incapable of caring for themselves (e.g., extreme youth, as such a person would be unable to work). Such a person could lose custody but eventually get it back as they don’t lose parental rights.

The adoption issue can’t be forced easily…but custody can.

chelle21689's avatar

@mrrich, That’s good to hear but I wouldn’t want my kid to get pregnant so young. It’s still not a good idea. But sometimes it does workout for the best. My older sister used to be rebellious in her teens without a care. At 19, she was pregnant and it turned her life around for the best. She started to act more mature and get her life together, lol. She’s now 31, owns her own daycare successfully. Sometimes I envy those that had a kid and is able to get their life together because they are closer in age and can have more kids. I’m almost 24, no kids, not planning on them anytime soon but at the same time worried I’ll be 30 by the time I have my first and 34 by the next.

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