Michigan Courts Prohibit Woman From Seeing Abortion Bypass File
by Steven Ertelt
August 12, 2003
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — In a case that sheds light on the rubber stamp process Michigan courts have used in granting teens a waiver from the state’s parental notification law, a Michigan woman wants to see the court records from her file when she was granted an abortion as a teen.
Despite being on drugs to help with a mental illness, the court granted her an abortion without her parents’ knowledge and deemed her fit to be able to make an abortion decision on her own.
The Thomas More Law Center, a pro-life legal center, has filed a brief with the Michigan Court of Appeals in its continued efforts to permit a young women to obtain
access to her own court file.
The woman was fifteen at the time the bypass waiver was granted.
At the time, she was taking prescription drugs to combat a mental illness and was undergoing medical treatment.
As a consequence, she continues to have only a vague memory of what occurred during the proceeding, and now wants to examine her file to learn whether the court was informed about her mental condition and to learn such things as whether she actually agreed to the judicial bypass and the abortion.
The young woman’s request to see her file was denied by a Michigan Probate Court Judge in early 2000. After several appeals to various courts during the last 3 years, on June 12, 2003, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered the Michigan Court of Appeals to render a decision in the case.
Edward White, an associate counsel with Thomas More, said the case will hopefully set a precedent for future situations.
"Our client not only seeks access to her own court file, but the establishment of legal principles that will instruct lower courts in ruling on future requests by women who want access to their own court files that deal with the judicial bypass proceedings they went through to obtain abortions without parental consent," White said.
A Michigan parental consent law was supposed to increase parental involvement and reduce the number of teen abortions. Yet abortion advocates have found a way to legally circumvent it by abusing the judicial bypass option.
However, abortion facilities have hired attorneys to go "judge shopping" in surrounding counties to find a local judge who will approve the abortion.
According to state figures, in 79 percent of the 628 cases last year the teen’s abortion is granted. A 2001 partial state survey by the Supreme Court found more than 90 percent of waiver requests are granted.
"In many instances, the judicial bypass system has become a rubber-stamp process," Kristen Hemker of Right to Life of Michigan told LifeNews.com.
Right to Life of Michigan is pursuing pro-life legislation that would tighten the parental notification requirements and reduce the number of waivers granted.