A manual for pro-choice activists published in the 1980s says that most of the time, judges grant minors’ judicial bypass requests. When a pregnant teen wants an abortion without her parents’ knowledge in a state that has parental notification or consent, she can go to judge and convince him she is “mature enough” not to inform her parents. Mainly, these are rubber stamped. The manual says:
“Even though the overwhelming majority of abortion petitions that come before the courts are granted, choice advocates argue that judicial bypass procedures impede a teenager’s constitutional right.”
Reproductive Choices and Community Controversy (Washington, DC: League Of Women Voters of the United States, 1986) 11
“In a sample of minors attending an abortion clinic in Minneapolis/St. Paul, 37% told their mothers and 26% told their fathers, but 71% had talked with their best girlfriends about the pregnancy.”
F Clary “Minor Women Obtaining Abortions: A Study of Parental Notification in a Metropolitan Area” American Journal of Public Health 72, 1982, 283 – 285
In the sample, the most common reason for not informing mothers about pregnancy and impending abortion was concern for the parents feelings.… Minors were especially unlikely to inform their parents if they believed that one or both held strongly negative attitudes toward abortion.”
Gary B Melton and Anita J Pliner “Adolescent Abortion: A Psycholegal Analysis in Gary B. Melton, ed Adolescent Abortion: Psychological and Legal Issues (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press) 20
In many states, minors are not allowed to have abortions without at least one parent’s permission, and in other states minors must inform a parent they are having an abortion. However, the laws allow minors to go to a judge and argue that informing their parent would not be in their best interests and they are mature enough to make the decision alone. The judge is supposed to carefully weigh the evidence, but in many places the judicial bypass is just a rubber stamp.
According to a Toledo newspaper:
“A teenage girl who wanted to win an exemption from the reporting law would best travel to Franklin (Columbus) or Montgomery (Dayton) counties, where more than 90% of requests are allowed.”
The Blade, January 24, 1992 (Toledo) quoted in Oliver Trager Abortion: Choice & Conflict (New York: Facts on File, 1993) 43
Judge Randall J Hekman refused to grant a judicial bypass to a 13-year old girl who wanted an abortion. A judicial bypass allows a minor to petition a judge for permission to have an abortion without informing her parents. It is a way to get around a parental consent/notification law. Every state with a parental consent/notification law allows minors to get a judicial bypass.
This letter was sent to the judge by the 13 year old he refused to grant a bypass to:
“I am writing to tell you how happy I am that you made the decision you did about me not having an abortion. When I think about it now I feel sort of foolish, of that whole incident… I think if I would of gone ahead with the abortion, I would of felt very disappointed in myself. I just want to thank you for giving me the extra time to think about it. I am really looking towards having my baby… My baby and I thank you very much!”
Randall J Hekman Justice for the Unborn (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Books, 1984) 17 – 18
Sadly, the baby boy died shortly after birth due to health problems. But the 13 year old mother was spared from the trauma and guilt of abortion.
Juanita Cuevas. who works as a medical assistant at Planned Parenthood’s South Sacramento clinic, wants her 14 year-old daughter to be able to have an abortion without her knowledge or permission.
The article says:
A Sacramento girl whose mother works at a Planned Parenthood clinic, has never had to seek out an abortion clinic. But if she were to get pregnant, she said, she’d want a safe place to turn for counseling and, perhaps, surgery—beyond the reach of her mother’s radar…..
The daughter, Priscilla Chavez, says:
“I don’t know,” she said. “Even though she’s a Planned Parenthood lady, I don’t think I would, because I would be afraid of her thinking badly of me.”….
Her mother is fine with this:
Cuevas said she is comfortable with that and wants only to ensure that her daughter and other girls continue to have a safe place to turn.
“This is a woman’s right,” she said. “And I understand that a 14-year-old isn’t yet a woman, but it’s her right.”
Abortion clinic worker Brenda Pratt-Shaffer she took care of a teenage abortion patient. The teenager had 3 abortions:
One of the things that really bothered me that day [At the abortion clinic] was a fifteen-year-old girl having her third abortion. Her parents did not even know that she was there. She was laughing the whole time she was in the clinic. I wondered if this was a nervous laugh or if she truly just did not care….I just kept thinking about my fifteen-year-old daughter that I had to sign for to have her ears pierced. But here was a fifteen-year-old having such a horrific procedure for the third time that her parents didn’t even know about.
Brenda Pratt-Shafer, David Shafer What the Nurse Saw: Eyewitness to Abortion (Mustang, Oklahoma: Tate Publishing & Enterprise, LLC, 2016) 27
Margo, who worked at a late-term abortion facility, on how the clinic managed to avoid parental involvement:
Where I worked we were a privately owned late term abortion clinic up to 20 weeks, and Michigan did pass a 24 hour consent law, and we did have parental overrides, judicial overrides that the counselors would help the minors obtain. And some of those things were pretty sketchy…It was more of a goal to keep them [parents] out as much as possible, because we did notice that outcomes would change when there was parental involvement. And so there was a whole system in place to help the kids get a judicial bypass, which basically was a rubber stamp, just go before the judge and say, “I’m afraid of what my parents will do to me if they find out that I am pregnant.” And the judge would ask, “Do you feel like you would be in danger?” “Yes.” “Ok.” And it’s just that sort of thing.