Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Louisiana Parental Consent Laws

Yesterday, the Supreme Court refused to reinstate a Louisiana law that requires minors to get parental consent for abortions, agreeing that it caused “undue interference” with young women’s abortion rights.

Although the Supreme Court has upheld parental-consent laws in other states, the Louisiana law was unique because it did not explicitly state that judges had to give permission for girls to have abortions if they did not tell their parents. The law, before it was barred by a federal trial judge, only said that judges “may” authorize abortions. In every other state, the law says a judge “shall” grant permission for abortions.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals prevented the law from being enforced in 1995, and said the Louisiana law “states that juvenile court judges have the discretion to deny an abortion to a minor even though the minor demonstrates that she is mature … or that the abortion would be in her best interest.” They also said that anonymity laws were violated if the judge contacted the parents of girls who want abortions.


AP - October 20, 1997

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