HARRISBURG, PA, February 1, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has decided to review the state’s law on parental consent for abortions for minors and the role judges play in substituting parental consent. This is the first-ever review of the “Abortion Control Act,” which has been in place in Pennsylvania for over 20 years.
The Act requires that minors under the age of 18 requesting an abortion have the consent of at least one parent. If both parents refuse consent or if the minor wishes to hide the abortion request from them, a minor can seek a judicial bypass.
The review follows the case of a young girl who requested a judicial bypass of an Allegheny County judge, seeking to conceal the abortion from her parents. The minor is referred to as “Jane Doe” in court documents for privacy reasons. The judge refused her request, maintaining that she have the consent of at least one parent.
The girl then appealed the decision to an appeals court, which refused to overturn the county judge’s decision.
While the law does allow for a bypass, it states that consent may only be given “if the court determines that the pregnant woman is mature and capable of giving informed consent” to the proposed abortion.
Defending the law are the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorneys, along with Americans United for Life and ADF-allied attorney Randall Wenger, who submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court at the end of December. Backing ADF are the Pennsylvania Family Institute, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, and nearly 70 state legislators who support the law.
The ADF brief states that the trial court judge did not err in denying an abortion in the case of “Jane Doe” since it is at the judge’s discretion to determine the case, in view of the woman’s maturity and best interests. “Nothing in the law suggests that a judicial bypass should be routinely granted,” says the brief. “Indeed, such a requirement is not constitutionally necessary.”
“Parents should have a right to be involved in their child’s critical life-changing decisions, and that includes abortions,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Secret abortions performed on minors leave children in the hands of a predatory abortion industry that has put profits above parents’ rights and the health and safety of young girls and their preborn children.”
In the case of “Jane Doe” one parent did eventually give consent and she aborted her child.
Jennifer Boulanger, executive director of the Allentown Women’s Center abortion mill, told The Trentonian she has never seen a judge deny a minor’s permission to seek an abortion and finds it surprising that a court would do so.
“That court is taking that minor’s life into its own hands,” Boulanger said. “She is going to be the one raising that child. It’s not only going to affect the minor, it’s going to affect the minor’s family and it is going to affect the child that she has.”
However, Michael Ciccocioppo, executive director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, told LifeNews.com: “We believe that the judicial bypass was used in this case precisely the way the legislature intended.”
“The judicial bypass was never meant to be a rubber-stamp for abortion. There is clearly no automatic right to judicial bypass in all cases.”
“It is our hope that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will use this case to affirm the lower courts’ rulings and interpret the Abortion Control Act as the General Assembly intended it to be read,” Ciccocioppo added.
“Pennsylvania law appropriately requires that children obtain parental consent to get a body piercing in Pennsylvania, yet abortionists argue that these same children should be able to secretly kill their preborn babies in a risky medical procedure,” said Randall Wenger, of the Independence Law Center. “While the baby in this particular case can never be brought back, the law must be upheld so that Pennsylvania parents may protect their daughters from being victimized under the cover of darkness by the profiteers of death in the abortion industry.”