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On Wednesday, April 20th, the State Affairs Committee in the State House considered House Bill 2555 by Representative Fred Brown. House Bill 2555 would close the loophole on minors seeking to undergo abortions without parental involvement.
Many legislators have voiced concern over the judicial bypass provision in the current law allowing minors to circumvent parental authority to seek an abortion. The intent of the judicial bypass mechanism in Texas’ parental involvement laws is to ensure protection of minors from sexual abuse: If a parent is raping a minor, resulting in a pregnancy, the minor could petition a judge to obtain the abortion to avoid risking further abuse by notifying the abusive parent.
However, abortion clinics have egregiously abused the judicial bypass, wantonly rushing minors through the judicial process. With the abortion clinic’s guidance, pregnant teens, who have not been the victim of sexual abuse, are going to judges because they do not want to tell their parents that they are pregnant or divulge their sexual activity. Shutting parents out of life-changing decisions of their daughters for an irreversible, invasive medical procedure is the ultimate violation of parental authority and dangerously weakens Texas families.
HB 2555 strengthens the existing parental notification and existing parental consent statutes by repealing the judicial bypass mechanism in both. The new rules, if passed, change the way a parent or guardian is notified before the minor’s abortion; these new rules are actually stronger than the existing parental consent laws.
The courts have ruled that no state can establish a veto for a minor abortion, meaning logistically that a consent law must necessarily include a judicial bypass option. To repeal the court option and strengthen the notification procedures closes the loopholes in current laws while providing advance notice to one parent, guardian, or managing conservator of the minor’s intent to undergo the abortion. Furthermore, the state currently pays for the attorneys and guardians to represent these minors in court to secure their secret abortions.
If a minor reveals to the abortion doctor or his clinic staff that she is the victim of rape and sexual abuse, HB 2555 would require law enforcement and protective services to respond to the report. In such cases, a temporary guardian is appointed for the minor until investigation of the alleged abuse is concluded, and notification of her decision to seek an abortion is provided to the new guardian.
Often, a parent can show a minor that abortion is not in her best interest and help her continue the pregnancy. Countless minors report that that after the initial shock of informing their parents of their pregnancy, the parents actually support and encourage their pregnant daughters. House Bill 2555 will serve to strengthen Texas families, protect minors from sexual predators, restore parental rights, and stop the state from paying for secret abortions.
Texas Right to Life expects the House State Affairs Committee to vote this bill out of committee as early as next week.