Minors will soon find it harder to obtain an abortion in Alabama, after the state legislature passed a bill last week creating more rules around parental consent.
A minor’s parent is already required to sign a consent form, but HB 494 will now require parents to do so in front of the physician performing the procedure. The parent giving consent must also prove their parentage by presenting a certified copy of a child’s birth certificate. Many people do not have a certified birth certificate easily available, and they can be difficult to obtain.
In addition, a young woman under 19 years of age seeking a judicial bypass of the consent law will have to provide the court with a “substantive” reason for why she does not wish to tell her parents about her decision, demonstrate her maturity and “understanding of life,” and prove that she has received counseling about alternatives to abortion. The court must inform the Attorney General that a young woman has applied for a judicial bypass and may appoint a guardian ad litem for the fetus.
“We are disappointed with passage of the bill,” said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “It creates a lot of unnecessary red tape and, if a young woman seeks a judicial bypass, she will still find herself being put on trial as if she is a criminal.”
Alabama’s legislature also recently passed a bill extending the waiting period for having an abortion from 24 to 48 hours on Wednesday. Governor Robert Bentley is expected to sign both bills.
Two other restrictive bills that had passed Alabama’s House of Representatives are not being taken up by the Senate. They sought to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected and require women carrying fetuses with lethal disorders to learn about perinatal hospice services – services that do not exist in the state of Alabama.
Media Resources: RH Reality Check 4/3/14, 4/4/14; Reuters 4/3/14; Alabama State Legislature 2/13/14