STATE PRO-LIFE NEWS
Michigan House Votes to Tighten Parental Consent Law
by Paul Nowak and Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Staff Writer/Editor
June 24, 2003
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — The Michigan House of Representatives voted Tuesday in favor of a bill to strengthen the state’s parental consent law. The House voted 73-32 to send the pro-life bill to the Senate, but the Senate will not take action on the bill until the fall.
Rep. William O’Neil (D-Allen Park) introduced House Bill 4478 to make
improvements to the 1990 Parent Rights Restoration Act.
"The current parental consent law allows minors to procure an abortion without the knowledge or consent of their parents through a parental bypass waiver that can be granted by a judge," Kristen Hemker of Right to Life of Michigan told LifeNews.com. "According to the State Court Administrative Office, up to 800 bypasses are applied for each year and approximately 90% of those judicial bypass waivers are granted. In many instances, the judicial bypass system has become a rubber-stamp process."
In response to complaints from local judges, the bill would define standards for when an abortion could be requested without parental consent, allow the judge to appoint an attorney as a parental advocate, and prohibit minors from petitioning another county court if the first court denies their request. In other cases, they may still appeal to a higher court in they are not satisfied with the first ruling, but can no longer go "judge shopping" for a county judge that will grant a parental bypass waiver.
The measure could significantly reduce the number of abortions produced on minors, a trend that has already begun under the current, less-restrictive law.
"According to statistics from the Michigan Department of Community Health, the number of abortions performed on minors has been cut by over 55% and the number of teenagers giving birth has decreased by over 49% since passage of Michigan’s parental consent law in 1990," Hemker said.
"Parental involvement has helped reduce the number of children undergoing abortions while simultaneously reducing the number of children having children."
"The language [of the bill] is strong because I’m trying to be a real parent advocate," O’Neil said. "I’m trying to see if there’s a way of forcing the teen-ager to discuss this with their parents."
Among the new guidelines for judges, they will have to take into account certain factors, such as maturity of the teen girl, academic history, medical history, efforts to learn of alternatives to abortion, and sexual history. The measures are intended to help the judge determine if the teen would return with another abortion request.
"If she’s seeking an abortion today, is she going to be in front of the
judge in another six months seeking another one?" O’Neil asked.
While it appears that there will be enough votes to pass the measure, Robyn Menin, president of the Planned Parenthood Mid-Michigan Alliance, told the News-Herald she believes the measure will be ruled unconstitutional.
The state Department of Community Health said there were 1,744 abortions among girls between ages 15 and 17 in 2001.
The abortion consent waiver bill is House Bill 4478.
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