In a narrow, 5-4 ruling, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld a trial judge’s ruling denying a 17-year-old woman’s request for a judicial bypass, which would have allowed her to obtain an abortion. The trial judge claimed that the testimony of the young woman and her godmother seemed “rehearsed”, and thus not believable.
In upholding the lower court ruling, the Alabama Supreme Court majority opinion stated that it was not appropriate to question the trial judge’s decision without having been present during the original testimony.
In his dissent, Justice Houston pointed out that “most, if not all, parties to litigation are told by their attorneys what questions the attorneys propose to ask and are asked what their answers to those questions will be. I can not believe that the fact that the testimony of a party or witness has been rehearsed indicates that the testimony is a lie.”
Currently, 21 states have passed parental consent laws, requiring a young woman under the age of 18 to get the permission of at least one parent in order to obtain an abortion. 21 states have passed parental notification laws, requiring that at least one parent be notified before a young woman can obtain an abortion. States with parental consent or notification laws are required to provide for a judicial bypass option, which allows a judge to waive the parental consent or notification rule.