February 14, 2013 — The Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee on Tuesday voted 7-3 to approve two bills that would make it more difficult for a minor to obtain an abortion without parental consent, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Oklahoma requires parental consent, but a minor in need of an abortion may seek a judicial bypass allowing her to obtain the procedure without involving her parents.
One of the bills (HB 1558) would completely eliminate the judicial bypass option. The second bill (HB 1361) would require that the minor's request be heard by a judge presiding in the county where she lives.
Abortion-rights opponents claimed that abortion providers are exploiting the system by seeking out judges who commonly grant the bypass. Tony Lauinger, chair of Oklahomans for Life, said the bypass has become "a rubber stamp for judges, many times who are identified by the abortion industry."
However, state Rep. Jeannie McDaniel (D) said that the judicial bypass process rarely is used in Oklahoma. Opponents of the bills also noted that the bypass process is critical to the safety of teenagers who could face abuse if their parents learned about a pregnancy.
Several States Seek To Limit Judicial Bypass
Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, said several states are taking steps to further restrict the use of judicial bypass.
Nash said, "The idea of tying all these criteria to the judicial bypass is not very effective in trying to assess an individual teen's situation. It also places a burden on the teen, where it's already hard enough to navigate the judicial process." She added, "What we're seeing here is part and parcel of making it more difficult for a teen to access abortion care" (Murphy, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/12).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.