Increased Judicial Bypass Restrictions in Texas

In a state already bogged down with anti-choice restrictions, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has now gone a step further by adding new stipulations to the judicial bypass process. In Texas, teen girls who face unintended pregnancies must receive parental consent before they can get an abortion. The majority of minors who seek abortion services have the support of their families, but a third of teens who are faced with this decision come from extreme situations where going to their guardians for support can lead to abuse. Judicial bypass is a process in which minors can obtain the required parental consent through a court. The criteria for minors to receive the bypass include proving one of the following three: that they are mature enough and well-in formed enough to receive an abortion; that it is in their best interest not to notify their parents of their decision; and by notifying their parents would result in physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. One of these three criteria must be demonstrated in front of a court who will them deem the minor eligible or not to have the procedure.

As if these restrictions were not enough, Governor Abbott now requires minors to apply for judicial bypass in the county of residence, but, if their county contains less than 10,000 people they must apply through the adjacent county or wherever they plan to have the procedure. Before this new law minors could apply in any county of Texas. The new law also extends the time the judge has to rule on the minor’s case from 2 to 5 days. Previously, if a judge did not respond in two days the request for consent was automatically approved, however, now the law states, even after five days the judge’s decision is neither confirmed nor rejected, the minor must wait. Women will also be asked to provide a form of identification when seeing a physician about an abortion as doctors must now assume all women are minors. Women who do not provide proof of ID can still have the procedure but will have a report sent to the state on their abortion. This law only serves to exacerbate the volatile family situations faced by teens, and place an undue burden on young girls seeking a safe and legal medical service.

Governor Abbott signed this legislation on Friday and has planned a ceremony to promote the bill and its criteria on July 8th.

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