National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Texas Gov. Signs Bill Tightening Judicial Bypass Restrictions for Minors Seeking Abortion

Texas Gov. Signs Bill Tightening Judicial Bypass Restrictions for Minors Seeking Abortion

June 15, 2015 — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday signed a bill (HB 3994) imposing additional restrictions on minors seeking a court's permission to receive abortion care instead of obtaining parental consent for the procedure, AP/Dallas Morning News reports.

Abbott has scheduled a ceremony on July 8 to promote the legislation (AP/Dallas Morning News, 6/12).

Background

Prior to the new law, minors could apply for a judicial bypass in any Texas county. Minors seeking judicial bypass must prove at least one of three grounds: that they are well-informed and mature enough to obtain an abortion without parental notification; that it is not in their best interest to notify their parents of the procedure; or that notifying their parents would cause emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

HB 3994 requires minors to apply for bypass in their county of residence, an adjacent county if their home county has fewer than 10,000 residents or in the county in which they plan to have the procedure. In addition, the law increases the burden of proof that minors face when claiming that obtaining parental consent for abortion would lead to emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

Previously, judges were required to rule on such petitions within two days, at which time the request was considered approved absent a judge's ruling. Under HB 3994, a judge is required to rule on a minor's request within five days. The law does not provide any guidance on whether a request is granted or denied if a judge does not issue a ruling in that timeframe.

The law also requires physicians to assume pregnant women are minors and request they show proof of identification. However, physicians are allowed to provide abortion care without a woman providing an ID. In such cases, physicians are required to provide a report to the state on the abortion.

The law allows for civil penalties of up to $10,000 for any individual found to have "intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with gross negligence" violated the measure (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/2).