Michigan Tries Stopping Teen Abortions Without Parental Consent

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 29, 2012   |   5:50PM   |   Washington, DC

The state of Michigan is working to stop abortions on teen girls done without parental consent — which happens when abortion businesses find pro-abortion attorneys to obtain judges who will frequently grant a judicial bypass.

Right to Life of Michigan, which is working to stop the abuse of the parental consent law, talked about the measure the Michigan state Senate approved to curb the abuses.

“The Michigan Senate voted 28-10 today to approve an update to our law requiring minors to get parental consent before an abortion. Minors are allowed to get judicial waivers to avoid telling their parents but the process is being abused by minors who “judge shop” in a different county after already being denied a waiver by another judge. The process is also abused by some judges who have become “rubber stamps” for judicial waivers,” the organization said.

S.B. 135 was introduced on February 10, 2011 and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. On October 4, 2011, it was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with three votes in favor and one senator abstaining.

Right to Life of Michigan describes the problem further:

Michigan’s parental consent law mandates that before an abortion can be performed on a minor, one of her parents must consent in writing. The law also permits a minor to seek a judicial bypass. In this process, the minor girl petitions the court for a waiver of parental consent, arguing that she has sufficient maturity to make the decision independent of her parents. S.B. 135 closes a loophole in the parental consent law, preventing the practice of “judge shopping” among minors seeking a judicial bypass for abortion.

Minor girls who have been denied a judicial bypass at one court would not be permitted to seek a bypass at another county court. If there is an unanticipated change in her family situation or circumstances of her pregnancy, she would be permitted to request a rehearing, in addition to her right to an expedited appeal. S.B. 135 also creates guidelines for judges in making a determination regarding the maturity of the girl seeking an abortion, and her best interests. These guidelines are consistent with the line of questioning recommended by the Michigan Benchbook, and include taking into consideration whether the minor girl’s parents have neglected or abused her.

The testimony of Michigan judges and anecdotal evidence reveal that minor girls seeking an abortion are engaging in “judge shopping.” Instead of following the expedited appeal process after a denial, they bring a new petition in a neighboring county court without the knowledge of the prior court. In many cases, these minor girls are being assisted by abortion providers, who offer help in “navigating the judicial system,” according to one Michigan abortion facility’s website.

In addition, currently there are no statutory guidelines for judges when making determinations about a minor’s maturity level and best interests.

In the 2003-2004 session, the House and Senate passed a similar measure, but Governor Granholm vetoed the bill. In the 2007-2008 session, legislators introduced a revised bill that addressed the false issues raised by Governor Granholm when she vetoed the prior bill. The revised bill passed the Senate but died in the House.

Ed Rivet, the legislative director of Right to Life of Michigan, told LifeNews.com the legislation “keeps integrity in our court system, requiring that abortion judicial bypasses meet the same standards as other court proceedings.”

“Our parental consent law has helped lower teen abortions by 60% since the law was implemented. This bill will make the law even more effective,” he explained.

Previously, the Detroit News indicated Shelli Weisberg, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said about 75 percent of teenagers getting abortions had parental consent. She said 380 requests for waivers were filed in 2006 but did not say how many were granted.

According to 2004 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.

Governor Jennifer Granholm vetoed an earlier bill in February 2004 that would address this problem.