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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges


Texas governor signs law closing ‘judicial bypass’ loopholes for minor girls

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

AUSTIN, TX, June 16, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Texas has tighter rules for minor girls who want to have the major surgery of abortion without their parents' knowledge.

The legislation limits the use of "judicial bypass," the means by which young, sexually active girls who become pregnant forego their parents' permission for surgery. State law requires minors otherwise at least inform their parents before obtaining an abortion.

More than two-thirds of young girls who are impregnated by teenage boyfriends or adult statutory rapists in Texas use the "judicial bypass" system to avoid informing their parents.

The new law requires girls under the age of 18 who have become pregnant and want an abortion to file for a bypass in their home county – unless their county has less than 10,000 people, when the filing may become public knowledge.

Because "judicial bypass" is routinely granted within two days unless the court intervenes, the bill gives an extra three days for the court to decide.

The bill also holds judges to a "clear and convincing" standard for evaluating the danger to the child seeking abortion.

"Judicial bypass" of parental consent for major surgery has been deemed necessary by the U.S. Supreme Court, though family advocates say it circumvents parental authority and undermines the family structure as the basic building block of society.

According to law, a minor girl cannot get her ears pierced, or any major or minor surgical procedure, without her parents' permssion, yet judicial bypass allows girls of reproductive age to have an abortion without their parents finding out – and that only in states that require parental notification in the first place.

Since Texas instituted judicial bypass in 1999, attorneys have often volunteered to guide young, often frightened minor girls through the courts to keep them from informing their mothers and fathers, often merely for the sake of avoiding embarrassment.

Pro-life advocates say that a minor girl who is a victim of sexual abuse from a coach, neighbor, or other predator is further victimized by petitioning a judge without the help and support of her mother and father in this life-changing medical procedure.

Supporters admit the bill has an ulterior motive: to reduce the number of abortion surgeries in Texas.

Opponents came out in droves to vehemently fight the bill, saying it would endanger the lives of girls. Pro-abortion activists set up a Twitter hashtag, "#HereForJaneTX," to promote opposition to the bill.

Minor girls seeking abortions are referred to by the court as "Janes" for the sake of anonymity.

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But the most heated objection which pro-abortionists have to the bill is that it requires judges to report statutory rape to law enforcement.

Abortion businesses such as Planned Parenthood have come under nationwide criticism for ignoring the law and not reporting thousands of instances of statutory rape, when young, minor girls come in to pay for abortion. Live Action has gone undercover at abortion businesses nationwide and exposed the shocking frequency of instances where abortion offices agree to cover up the sexual exploitation of minors.

Live Action president Lila Rose said, "A corporation that promises to protect young girls and then exploits and abandons them for profit might be called a chop shop. It might be called a violator of human rights or an abuser of women. Or it might be called a tax-funded, government-supported health care authority. It might be called – in fact, it is called – Planned Parenthood."

Opponents of the Texas bill say that if judges report a statutory rape and trigger a police investigation, this may put the minor mothers in danger. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that judicial bypasses for abortions must be confidential.

Heather Busby, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said, “The legislature is playing politics with abused and neglected teenagers’ lives.”

Americans United for Life President Dr. Charmaine Yoest commended Governor Greg Abbott for signing Texas H.B. 3994, a measure designed to protect young girls from sexual predators. "This law ensures that the people making decisions with and for young girls are those who love them and will stand by them," Dr. Yoest said.

The bill passed the Texas House with overwhelming support by a vote of 93-46, then it passed the Texas Senate by a vote of 21-10.

The law requires that a physician assume that a girl seeking an abortion is a minor unless the girl presents a valid government ID proving otherwise.

Given the irrevocable nature of an abortion, the law also requires that an abortionist must provide the young girl 48 hours to reflect on the surgery.

But, importantly, the law holds the abortionists accountable to report suspected child abuse to authorities.

"The abortion industry has functioned as a co-conspirator to sexual predators, accepting money to destroy the living evidence of a crime and turning a blind eye to girls who are being abused," said Dr. Yoest. "This bill puts a young girl's interests ahead of an abortionist's convenience."

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