Know Your Rights - Reproductive Health Care for Youth in Illinois

If you are under 18 you have the right to make many decisions about your own reproductive health in Illinois. Find more information and resources below.

If you have any questions, please contact us at: judicialbypass@aclu-il.org.

I’m pregnant and under 18. What should I do?

A.I’m pregnant and under 18. What should I do?

A.

You have three options — you can:

  1. Continue your pregnancy and become a parent,
  2. Continue your pregnancy and place the baby for adoption, or
  3. Terminate your pregnancy by getting an abortion.  

Remember that choosing which of these options is right for you is your decision to make. No one can force you to make a decision you don’t want to — not even your parent, guardian or your sexual partner.

I am not sure what I want to do with my pregnancy. Is there anyone I can talk to for help making my decision?

A.I am not sure what I want to do with my pregnancy. Is there anyone I can talk to for help making my decision?

A.

Who you decide to talk with about this decision is up to you. You may choose to talk about your options with your partner, parents, relatives, friends, health care provider, or religious leader if you feel safe and comfortable doing so.

If you are having a hard time finding someone you feel comfortable talking to or feel like you just want additional support, the All-Options Talkline provides a confidential space for you to talk about your feelings about your pregnancy. They offer judgement-free support, no matter what you decide to do.

What if I want to continue my pregnancy and become a parent?

A.What if I want to continue my pregnancy and become a parent?

A.

Once the baby is born, you will have full parental rights and responsibility for your child.

For more information about pregnancy and parenting and to locate resources near you: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/onechifam/home.html.

What if I want to continue my pregnancy and then place the baby for adoption?

A.What if I want to continue my pregnancy and then place the baby for adoption?

If I continue my pregnancy, can I make my own decisions about prenatal and labor/delivery care?

A.If I continue my pregnancy, can I make my own decisions about prenatal and labor/delivery care?

A.

Yes, if you are under 18 and pregnant, you have the right to consent to and make your own decisions about your prenatal care and care during labor and delivery. This includes decisions about how to give birth such as whether to get an epidural or do a c-section. You do not need your parents’ involvement or permission to receive this care. No one can force you to receive or to decline particular care during your labor and delivery against your own wishes.

For more resources about staying healthy during pregnancy: https://www2.illinois.gov/hfs/MedicalClients/MaternalandChildHealth/Pages/healthy_births.aspx.

What if I don’t want to continue my pregnancy? Is it legal for me to get an abortion in Illinois if I’m under 18?

A.What if I don’t want to continue my pregnancy? Is it legal for me to get an abortion in Illinois if I’m under 18?

A.

Yes, abortion is legal for all people in Illinois.

If I’m under 18 and want an abortion, do I have to tell my parents or get their permission?

A.If I’m under 18 and want an abortion, do I have to tell my parents or get their permission?

A.

You do not need a parent's or guardian's permission to get an abortion in Illinois.

You do not need to tell your parents or anyone else about your abortion unless you want to.

What about the Parental Notice of Abortion Act (PNA)? Doesn’t that require minors to notify their parents if they want an abortion?

A.What about the Parental Notice of Abortion Act (PNA)? Doesn’t that require minors to notify their parents if they want an abortion?

A.

Starting June 1, 2022, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act is no longer the law in Illinois. People under 18 have the same rights as adults to decide who to tell about their abortion. 

Where can I get an abortion in Illinois?

A.Where can I get an abortion in Illinois?

Is there such a thing as a fake abortion clinic?

A.Is there such a thing as a fake abortion clinic?

A.

Unfortunately, yes. There are some places known as “crisis pregnancy centers” (also called CPCs or “pregnancy resource centers”).  They are set up to look like real health clinics, but they have a mission to scare, shame or pressure you out of getting an abortion. 

Crisis pregnancy centers don’t actually provide abortion, and they won’t give you accurate and unbiased facts about sexual health and your pregnancy options.

How do I spot a fake clinic?

A.How do I spot a fake clinic?

A.

Some signs that a clinic might be a crisis pregnancy center include:

  • It’s listed online or on map apps as a “pregnancy resource center”, “pregnancy help center”, “pregnancy care center”, “women’s resource center”, or “abortion alternatives”.
  • They advertise free pregnancy tests, abortion counseling, pre-abortion screenings, abortion education, post-abortion care, or after-abortion help — but they refuse to help you or tell you where you can get an abortion.
  • They say negative things about abortion, birth control, condoms, or premarital sex.
  • They try to pressure you into deciding to continue your pregnancy.
  • They try to talk to you about religion even when you don't want to.

Is there a way for me to check whether the clinic I am planning to go to is legitimate or not?

A.Is there a way for me to check whether the clinic I am planning to go to is legitimate or not?

Are there different types of abortions?

A.Are there different types of abortions?

A.

Yes — you can either get a medication abortion (also called the “abortion pill”) or a surgical abortion (also called “in-clinic” or “procedural” abortion). 
 

Can I use my health insurance for my abortion without my family finding out?

A.Can I use my health insurance for my abortion without my family finding out?

A.

If you get your health insurance through the Illinois Medicaid program (i.e. you have an HFS “medical card”), then you should be able to use it to fully cover the cost of your abortion confidentially without any information being revealed to your family.

If you get your health insurance through your parent’s or other family members’ job, or your parent or family member buys health insurance for you, you cannot use this insurance confidentially. In this situation, if you do not want your parent or other family member to know about your abortion, you should not use your health insurance to cover the cost of the abortion or any related care.

Your medical provider may be able to give you more information about which types of insurance will keep your abortion confidential and which types may inform your family if you use them for your abortion.

What if I don’t have enough money to pay for my abortion myself?

A.What if I don’t have enough money to pay for my abortion myself?

A.

There are organizations that can help to reduce the cost of your abortion. When speaking with these organizations, it is important to let them know that you are under 18 and cannot use your health insurance to pay for your abortion because you have concerns about your confidentiality. Let them know that you have limited income and need the abortion costs to be reduced as much as possible so that it is affordable for you. 

What if I need help getting to the abortion clinic?

A.What if I need help getting to the abortion clinic?

A.

The Midwest Access Coalition (MAC) assists with the logistical costs and difficulties associated with getting an abortion. This includes:

  • Travel Costs: If you are traveling for an abortion from another city or state (or even across a city), MAC can help with your journey. MAC can book bus, train, or plane tickets to get to the city, or reimburse gas costs. If you need assistance traveling from a bus or train station to the clinic, MAC has trained volunteer drivers or they can order you a ride and make sure you get back when your procedure is done.
  • Lodging accommodation: MAC volunteers help eliminate the costly expense of staying in a hotel by assisting with lodging. It is their goal to make your stay go as smoothly as possible and their hosts have been trained to provide support based on your unique needs.

Contact the Midwest Access Coalition: 

I recently got an abortion. Is there anyone I can talk to about my feelings?

A.I recently got an abortion. Is there anyone I can talk to about my feelings?

A.

There is no right or wrong way to feel after having an abortion—whatever feelings you have are valid. 

Exhale is an organization addressing the emotional health and well-being of people after having an abortion. Exhale offers a free textline that provides emotional support, resources, and information. All texts are completely confidential and counselors offer support and respect without judgment. The Exhale textline is available to individuals who have had abortions, and to their partners, friends, allies, and family members.

  • Text Exhale: 617-749-2948

Do I need my parents’ permission to get on birth control if I’m under 18?

A.Do I need my parents’ permission to get on birth control if I’m under 18?

A.

No, you do not need permission from your parent or guardian to get birth control in Illinois. You can use the following resources to locate places that should provide confidential birth control services if you don’t feel safe or comfortable with involving a parent or guardian:

What if I can’t afford to pay for birth control?

A.What if I can’t afford to pay for birth control?

A.

I’m under 18 and recently had unprotected sex. Do I need my parents’ permission to get emergency contraception?

A.I’m under 18 and recently had unprotected sex. Do I need my parents’ permission to get emergency contraception?

A.

Emergency contraception (also called EC or “Plan B”) is a form of contraception that a person can take up to 120 hours after sex to prevent a pregnancy before it starts.

You do not need your parents’ permission to access EC if you are under 18; there are a number of brands of EC you can purchase over the counter at the pharmacy without a prescription or proof of your age. The price of EC varies depending on the pharmacy and brand, but in general, EC costs between $35 and $60.   

I experienced sexual assault. Who can I reach out to for help?

A.I experienced sexual assault. Who can I reach out to for help?

A.

We are so sorry that you experienced this—please know, you are not alone. There are a number of different resources that offer help and support to survivors of sexual assault: 

  • Confidential 24/7 Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline: 1-888-293-2080
  • Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault: https://icasa.org/ 
  • Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network: https://www.rainn.org/ 
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)