A federal appeals court struck down part of an Alabama pro-life law Wednesday that includes parents in an underage girl’s decision to abort her unborn baby.
News 19 reports an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a federal judge’s ruling declaring part of the law unconstitutional.
The appeals court agreed that a 2014 amendment to the Alabama Parental Consent Act is “an undue burden” for underage girls who want to ask a judge for permission for an abortion, rather than their parents, according to Newsweek.
Like many states, Alabama requires girls under 18 to have a parent’s permission to have an abortion. However, a judicial bypass provision allows a minor to request a judge’s permission instead. The provision is meant for girls who come from abusive homes, but abortion activists often tell young girls how to take advantage of the exception.
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In 2014, Alabama lawmakers amended the law to require minors who wanted a judicial bypass to appear in court with lawyers and possibly her parents. It also allows the court to appoint a lawyer to represent the interests of her unborn baby.
The Reproductive Health Services abortion facility in Montgomery County and other pro-abortion sued to block the amendments.
In their ruling Wednesday, the appeals court argued that requiring an underage girl to go to court to request an abortion without her parents’ permission “can be intimidating.”
“Going to court can be intimidating for minors in any setting, but that is particularly true for minors who seek judicial authorization for an abortion, which requires placing in the government’s hands a decision that will change the course of one’s life forever,” they said in the ruling. “For an unemancipated minor who decides to avail herself of the bypass process, the challenged provisions present a substantial obstacle.”
The appeals court judges also said the Alabama Attorney General failed to explain “how the challenged provisions ‘offer pregnant minors any kind of guidance or assistance.’”
According to News 19, the court based its decision on a 1979 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires states to allow the judicial bypass option in their parental consent/notification laws regarding abortions.
The state has not said yet if it will appeal.
The American Civil Liberties Union rejoiced at the ruling, saying it protects young girls’ access to abortion in Alabama.
“We are thrilled that the Eleventh Circuit’s ruling ensures that this outrageous law will stay off the books,” said Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, in a statement. “This law, which would have put a young person on trial for seeking an abortion, shows just how far anti-abortion politicians are willing to go to stand in the way of abortion access.”
The ACLU and most pro-abortion groups oppose any kind of parental involvement laws for abortions.
Parental involvement laws protect young girls and unborn babies from abortion, and polls show that they have strong public support. A Gallup poll found 71 percent of Americans favor such laws, and research shows that they help save unborn babies from abortions.
These laws protect young girls from sexual abusers who often use abortion to cover up their crimes. They also help prevent vulnerable teens from making a hasty, uninformed decision to abort their unborn babies – something they may later regret.
Abortion activists frequently help teens bypass these protective measures. In 2013, the National Right to Life Committee found that, in one state in a period of 4 1/2 years, there were 3,573 judicial petitions to bypass parents and only nine were denied.
NRLC explained previously:
Parents are, for the most part, not given the opportunity to consent, they are not given the opportunity to be consulted, they are totally bypassed. Their minor daughter is given a secret abortion and they are then left in the dark trying to pick up the pieces of their injured daughter’s life not knowing where to begin. The abortion industry masterfully manipulates this judicial bypass loophole by getting their own attorneys appointed by the court to shepherd pregnant minors through the intimidating judicial system and the abortion is performed before anyone can take a breath.