The ever-contested abortion debate lands on the Texas legislature calendar this week as Rep. Geanie Morrison drives forward a bill targeting minor’s access to abortion.
Texas law currently holds that a minor must gain the consent of a parent or guardian in order to obtain an abortion, but if consent is not possible or puts the teenager in danger, the teen may seek a judge’s order, called judicial bypass.
The proposed bill would affect the process of judicial bypass, namely the State will no longer foot the bill of court cost associated with court-appointed guardians and attorneys. Additionally, the court-appointed guardian may not also act as the ad litem attorney.
The large burden of the bill, however, stems from the requirement to “show a government issued ID which disproportionately affects low-income Texans of all ages,” according to a NARAL Pro-Choice Texas press release.
One of many opponents toward the bill, Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, avidly accuses Texas legislators of “playing politics with abused and neglected teenagers’ lives.”
An advocate for domestic violence survivors, Delma Limones agrees will Busby, saying "The young people who need the judicial bypass process, they cannot reach out to their parents or guardians without being put in danger.”
Government Relations Director for the National Association of Social Workers, Will Francis says, “Public policies must support a woman’s authority over her sexual life and reproductive capacity. When safety or personal issues require a judicial bypass, a teenager should have the right to petition the court without any needless restrictions or barriers.”
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy published data for 2013 revealing pregnancy rates for Texas as high as 41 out of every 1000 girls between the ages of 15 to 19. In 2010, $1.1 billion was spent on teen childbearing. The data also indicates for 2013, nearly half of teenagers, between the ages of 15 to 19, confirmed they already engaged in sex.
Texas state law does not require schools to incorporate a sex education into their curriculum and if included the message MUST teach abstinence as the only option, according to the Dallas Observer.