by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
December 3, 2004
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — After almost five years of legal battles, a Michigan woman has been allowed to view court records of a judicial waiver granted to her at age 15 that allowed her to obtain an abortion without her mother’s consent.
The woman, known as FG, was originally denied a request to view her court file in 2000.
A few years earlier, she had obtained an abortion without her mother’s consent because a judge had issued a judicial waiver, but, because of a mental illness and drugs she was then taking, the woman has only a vague recollection of the proceedings.
She wanted to ensure that the courts had been notified of her mental state, before ruling that she was competent enough to make the decision without parental counsel.
After years of filing appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court, in June 2003, ordered the Court of Appeals to render a decision. That decision was finally made public last week, overturning the lower court’s decision.
"Most parents don’t realize that a court in a secret hearing can authorize an abortion for a minor without the knowledge, input, or consent of her parents. Until the ruling in this case, court bypass proceedings were even kept secret from the girl who went through the proceedings," said Richard Thompson, Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center that represented FG.
"Not only were we able to obtain the proper relief for our client, but we have established legal principles that will guide courts when ruling on requests by women who want access to their own court files that deal with the judicial bypass proceedings," added Edward L. White III, the attorney handling the case.
A Michigan parental consent law was supposed to increase parental involvement and reduce the number of teen abortions.
It has to some extent, yet abortion advocates have found a way to legally circumvent it by abusing the judicial bypass option.
Abortion facilities have hired attorneys to go "judge shopping" in surrounding counties to find a local judge who will approve the abortion.
However, the law appears to have an affect on teen abortion rates.
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.
The state Department of Community Health said there were 1,744 abortions among girls between ages 15 and 17 in 2001.
Right to Life of Michigan is currently advocating pro-life legislation that would tighten the parental notification requirements and reduce the number of waivers granted. Governor Jennifer Granholm vetoed a bill in February that would have done so.