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Texas Supreme Court Refuses Judicial Bypass to Minor Seeking Abortion

In an outrageous decision, the Texas Supreme Court refused a minor’s request for a judicial bypass of the state’s recently enacted parental notification law, arguing that she “did not show she was mature enough and sufficiently well informed to make that decision on her own,” the Associated Press resported. The law took effect on January 1, and required an unmarried girl under age 17 to notify a parent before having an abortion, or to seek a court order allowing her to bypass the regulation. Tuesday’s decision marks the first time the Texas court has ruled against a girl since the law was enacted.

Seven of the nine Justices argued that the girl in this case was not sufficiently informed of particular personal medical risks. However, the girl also testified to a particularly alarming family situation, one that highlights the danger of parental consent laws. She argued that telling her parents “would not be in her best interest because when her older sister got pregnant, the parents threw her out of the house and still don’t speak to her.” Despite this evidence of danger to the girl, the court argued that “her particular physical needs and the possibility of physical danger [from the abortion procedure] outweighed a potential family disruption.” Kae McLaughlin, director of the Texas Abortion Rights Action League, noted, “‘It may induce her to tell a parent, but it also may just leave her to remedies outside of the safe, legal medical practice.'”

Sources:

Dallas Morning News - 11 April, 2000 and Fort Worth Star-Telegram - 11 April, 2000 and Kaiser Daily Health Report - 12 April, 2000