Federal Court Blocks Alabama Law Putting Minors Seeking Abortion Care on Trial
Law Would Have Imposed Barriers on a Minor’s Ability to Get Abortion Care
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A federal court today blocked an Alabama law that imposed severe barriers on a minor’s ability to get abortion care in the state.
The law, which was passed in 2014, applied to minors who sought a judicial bypass of the state’s parental consent requirement for abortion. It went beyond any other parental consent law in the country and forced minors seeking abortion care to stand trial if they were able to obtain a parent’s consent for the procedure.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for women, for young people, and for reproductive health in Alabama,” said Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “Existing restrictions already force teenagers seeking abortion care to face a series of daunting obstacles. This law added insult to injury by forcing them to stand trial for their health decisions.”
The law allowed the court to appoint a guardian to legally represent minor’s fetus and permitted the district attorney and, in some circumstances, even the minor’s parents to cross-examine the minor. It allowed any of these parties to disclose the minor’s pregnancy to others, including her teachers, her employers, and her friends and to call them to testify in court. Additionally, it enabled the district attorney, guardian, or the minor’s parents to appeal a bypass, potentially dragging out the process for so long that the teen would no longer be able to get abortion care.
“By undermining their confidentiality, this law put teenagers participating in the judicial bypass process in real danger,” Beck continued. “It’s great when teens can turn to their parents if they have an unintended pregnancy. But that ideal is not always the reality. This law exposed teens to the risk of abuse or harm. When a young woman decides to end her pregnancy, she should be able to do so with compassion and respect, without cruel barriers that shame her and put her in harm’s way.”
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.