Target: Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey, Alabama State Legislature
Goal: Overturn law putting teens on trial for seeking abortions
In April 2014, lawmakers in Alabama passed a law putting new restrictions on the judicial bypass for underage abortions in the state. Anyone under 18 in Alabama must have parental consent to obtain an abortion unless the teen has been a victim of abuse or it would otherwise not be in her best interest to seek parental consent. A judicial bypass gives the courts the authority to grant her consent for the abortion in such a case.
Under the new law, HB 494, teens seeking a judicial bypass must submit evidence to the courts that they understand the procedure and the alternatives to abortion. The district attorney must be notified by the court and must participate in the proceedings, examining the girl’s mental state. The district attorney may call upon witnesses to attest to the girl’s character and ability to make such a monumental decision alone. The courts can even appoint a lawyer to represent the best interests of the fetus in the proceedings.
The parents or legal guardians are not to be contacted by the court, but if they are already aware of the bypass, they can participate. This means that a young woman who feels that involving her parents or guardians in a serious life decision is not in her best interest is effectively put on trial where her fetus receives representation, but she does not. If she is deemed unfit to make the decision, she is denied an abortion. If she is granted the bypass, that decision can still be appealed, putting her through another trial, at which time it may be too late for a legal abortion. This means a girl the court does not feel can make the decision to terminate a pregnancy on her own can be forced to become a mother on her own.
This law deters teens from even seeking abortions, as it humiliates them and exposes a personal issue they may have hoped to keep private. Sign this petition and demand that HB 494 be repealed immediately.
Dear Lieutenant Governor Ivey,
According to State Representative Mike Jones, HB 494, “…ensures that if a minor is seeking an abortion without parental consent, they fully understand the ramifications of their decision and prove that they are wholly aware of its impact—it’s that simple.”
However, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, Susan Watson, disagrees, saying, “This law aims to shame a young woman into not having an abortion.” The law directly affects teenage girls who are already disadvantaged, feeling that parental involvement in a major life decision is not in their best interest. Often they have already been abused or assaulted and are then forced to stand trial to be granted any reproductive freedom. Watson asks, “Why should she be put on trial and treated like a criminal for a constitutionally protected procedure?”
I urge you to overturn HB 494, a law sanctioning the harassment of young women already facing a great hardship.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Polina Sergeeva via Flickr