Ohio Senate Passes Pro-Life Bill to End Abuse of Abortion-Judicial Bypass
by Steven Ertelt
May 28, 2010
Columbus, OH (LifeNews.com) — The Ohio Senate yesterday passed a bill to end the abuse of the judicial bypass provision in the Ohio parental notification law. The bypass is designed to be used in very rare instances when a teenager telling her parents about her desire to have an abortion might cause her physical abuse.
However, abortion centers routinely flout the law by getting pro-abortion attorneys to file requests with judges in numerous cases where teens simply don’t want to inform their parents they are pregnant and considering an abortion.
Judges approve the lion’s share of the requests for a judicial bypass preventing parents from knowing when their minor daughter is requesting an abortion.
Sen. Tim Grendell and Sen. Karen Gillmor, both Republicans, introduced S.B. 242, a bill to revise the process of judicial bypass under Ohio’s Parental Consent for Abortion statute.
Under federal court rulings, parental consent statutes must permit a minor girl to "bypass" the parental consent requirement by convincing a juvenile judge either: 1) that she is mature and well enough informed to decide whether to have an abortion; or 2) that the abortion is in her best interests.
The bill addresses the fact that some judges are giving virtual "rubber-stamp" approval to these judicial bypass requests.
"Abortion can have serious and life-changing effects on a young woman. No one should assume that it is in her best interests," said Mike Gonidakis, Executive Director of Ohio Right to Life.
"This bill would require that, before cutting a girl’s parents out of the abortion decision, a judge must make sure that the girl understands the possible negative effects of abortion. It would also require the judge to determine whether the girl’s testimony really reflected her maturity or the ‘coaching’ of others," Gonidakis said.
The Senate voted 22 to 11 to pass the bill.
Proving their point about the approval process, the legislators pointed to a 2008 Columbus Dispatch article on bypass hearings showing one Franklin County judge indicated she had never denied a bypass request and another judge stated she had denied only one request.
A 2003 Akron Beacon Journal survey found a bypass approval rate of either 86% or 92% (the latter when a county that lumped voluntary dismissals with denials was excluded).
The legislation would require that the girl must prove her case by "clear and convincing evidence," and that the judge ask about the girl’s understanding of the possible physical and emotional complications of abortion and what she would do if she experienced such complications.
It also requires the judge ask about the extent that the girl has been "prepped" about how to answer questions and what testimony to give at the bypass hearing.
The bill now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives and it enjoys the support of pro-life groups like Ohio Right to Life and Right to Life of Cincinnati.
Mark Lally of Ohio Right to Life said, "S.B. 242 should increase the likelihood that a judge at a bypass hearing will adequately consider the possible negative effects of abortion in determining whether having an abortion without parental involvement would be in the minors best interests. It should also give the judge a better basis on which to determine the minors maturity and whether she is well-enough informed to intelligently decide whether to have an abortion."
Related web sites:
Ohio Right to Life – https://www.OhioLife.org
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