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Teen Endangerment Across State Lines

HB 2159 - Rep. Hurst (R-62, Meta)

This is a dangerous bill that puts teens’ health and safety at risk by creating more barriers to safe, legal abortion.

We all want our teens to be safe. HB 2159 criminalizes anyone other than a teen’s parent — including a grandparent, aunt, or religious counselor — who helps a teen access safe, legal abortion in another state.

Planned Parenthood strongly encourages teens to talk with their parents about reproductive health issues, including abortion, and research shows that most parents are involved in their teens’ abortion decisions. But in the real world, parental involvement is not an option for every young woman, especially if she lives in an abusive environment or is pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

Major medical groups oppose laws that endanger pregnant teens’ health and safety. Laws that mandate inappropriate state intrusion in family decision-making are opposed by major medical groups including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Public Health Association because research shows such laws can delay young people’s access to services and/or force them to take measures into their own hands.

Unfortunately, not all teens come from homes where good family communication is possible. Most teens facing an unintended pregnancy do go to their parents. However, some teens face violent or abusive parents and do not feel safe talking to their parents about an unintended pregnancy. The state cannot legislate healthy family communication. This bill could cause scared teens to put their safety at risk and do something desperate that would endanger their health.

House Bill 2159 could come between pregnant teens and the health care they need. This measure could cause medical care to be delayed, threatening teens’ health. It is essential that we keep teens safe by opposing this bill.

The Missouri Legislature should focus on ensuring our teens have comprehensive, medically accurate sex education. Teens who receive sex education are likelier to wait longer to have sex for the first time, and likelier to use contraception if and when they do. (Guttmacher)

Investing in sex education prevents unintended pregnancy and makes good fiscal sense. Unintended pregnancies cost U.S. families $11 billion a year. (Guttmacher) If we want our country to be fiscally responsible, we must invest in sex education and family planning services. If those giving birth during their teen years instead had their children during adulthood, taxpayers would save about $1,600 per person each year. (National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy) For every dollar invested in family planning, taxpayers save approximately $7. (Guttmacher)

Download this fact sheet as a PDF.

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