Parental consent laws such as the one in Alabama help protect unborn babies and young mothers from abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union and Alabama abortion activists challenged the law in 2014.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker struck down sections of the law on Friday, claiming they put an undue burden on young girls seeking abortions, the Associated Press reports. The ACLU argued that the law violates young girls’ rights to confidential proceedings.
Like many states, Alabama requires girls under 18 to have a parent’s permission to have an abortion. However, a judicial bypass provision allows a minor to request a judge’s permission to have an abortion rather than a parent’s. The provision is meant for girls who come from abusive homes, but abortion activists often tell young girls how to take advantage of the exception.
The now-overturned Alabama provisions also required minors who wanted a judicial bypass to appear in a trial-like court setting and have several lawyers and possibly her parents involved in the decision. It also allowed the court to appoint a lawyer to represent the interests of her unborn baby.
Walker ruled that these provisions “violate a pregnant minor’s long-established constitutional right to seek a judicial bypass to a state’s parental consent law without the participation of her parent, parents, or legal guardian … and her right to an anonymous judicial bypass hearing.”
“The judge cited a prosecutor’s appeal of a judge’s decision this summer to allow a 12-year girl to have an abortion after being impregnated by a relative. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals ruled in favor of the girl,” the AP reports.Polls show strong support for parental consent and notification laws that require a parent be involved in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. A Gallup poll found 71 percent of Americans favor such laws.
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