At the end of December, the Supreme Court of Texas released new rules amending the procedure for the so-called “judicial bypass” process. Judicial bypass is a legal workaround that some appeals courts have required in states with parental consent laws. Such states are required to provide minors with a way to obtain a judge’s permission to undergo an elective abortion in lieu of a parent’s in cases of neglect or abuse.
Prior to January 1, 2016, the longstanding judicial bypass process in Texas was loophole-ridden and egregiously abused by the abortion industry. Working alongside abortion-zealous attorneys, Big Abortion profited off of the lax, conveyor belt-style bypass process. Attorneys cherry-picked anti-Life judges, re-filing petitions at will until finding a favorable result. One of the worst provisions of the old law was the ‘automatic approval’ loophole, by which the minor was granted the petition if a judge failed to rule on her petition expeditiously. Abortionists and abortion lawyers could ignore and fail to report sexual abuse, too, thanks to these loopholes.
During the 2015 legislative session in Texas, judicial bypass rules underwent an overhaul by stalwart Pro-Life elected officials. These officials faced opposition from the abortion industry and subversion from self-proclaimed “Pro-Life” politicians. Fortunately, the genuine Pro-Life leaders in Austin recognized the dangers posed by existing rules and succeeded in changing them. The new rules serve to better affirm the dignity of the vulnerable young women who fall prey to Big Abortion’s predatory antics. Although the strongest protections for pregnant teenage mothers were resisted from all sides, Pro-Life efforts succeeded and went into effect on January 1.
The law guiding SCOTX’s new rules, House Bill 3994, closed the loophole that allowed venue shopping by anti-Life attorneys. New rules mandate that minors seeking judicial bypass complete the process in their home county, and prohibits denied petitions from being refiled elsewhere. To uphold the confidentiality of proceedings, minors living in counties with fewer than ten thousand residents are permitted to file their petition elsewhere. New rules also clarify that if a petition is filed in the wrong court, the clerk will transfer the petition to the correct court and notify the minor and her attorney of the transfer.
One of the strongest reforms of the new bypass rules includes reversing the loophole that permitted petitions to be automatically granted following a judge’s inaction; now, if a judge does not rule on the bypass request within five days, the petition is automatically denied. The lackluster politicos in Austin who called themselves “Pro-Life” were wary of strengthening this provision of the law; however, the Supreme Court has put in place this reasonable and common legal protection. Former rules provided no protection to minors who may have been subject to abuse, and unscrupulous petition-granting virtually guaranteed that victims of abuse and coercion would be sent right back into the arms of their abusers following the abortion. In an effort to protect minors from sexual predators involved in the secret abortion, judges and abortionists are also mandated by new rules to involve authorities if abuse is suspected.
The Supreme Court of Texas successfully aligned court procedure rules with the provisions of House Bill 3994 and clarified potential vagueness. The amended judicial bypass process brings Texas one step closer to affirming the dignity of all young, pregnant mothers and their preborn children.