Texas Supreme Court Rewrites Judicial Bypass Law


  • NARAL Pro-Choice Texas
Jane's Due Process, a nonprofit that assists pregnant teenagers in Texas, says the state's Supreme Court issued new judicial bypass rules that are more extreme than the Texas Legislature's version of the law.

Judicial bypass allows minors to obtain court approval to consent for an abortion when parents are missing, deported, dead, in prison, abusive or addicted to drugs.

Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 3994 on June 12. Jane's Due Process says that law imposed "far-reaching restrictions" by removing deadlines for judges to rule on a bypass request.

“When a minor cannot even get a hearing or a court ruling in time, the state is then making her decision for her. Such abuse of state power amounts to an 'absolute vet'” of her decision and is under U.S. Supreme Court precedent unconstitutional,” Susan Hays, legal council and a founder of Jane's Due Process, says in a press release.

But then the Texas Supreme Court got a hold of the law, which takes effect January 1, 2016. That court rejected recommendations from its own advisory committee and added unconstitutional provisions that even the Texas Legislature rejected, according to Jane's Due Process.

“The rules advisory committee offered suggestions to make the new law, House Bill 3994, more useful for both the courts and the clients, and less unconstitutional,” Hays says.

The amended rules also require minors to provide a judge with their name, address and phone number, which destroys anonymity and violates confidentiality, according to Jane's Due Process. And, with few exceptions, minors must file in their home county if its population is 10,000-plus.

“How heartless for the law to have no exception for a rape survivor fearful of seeing her rapist at the courthouse,” Hays says.

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