Monday, December 26, 2011

Minors' Abortion Approval: Penn. Supreme Court

In a 6-1 ruling, the Pennsylvania high court overruled a county judge's decision on "judicial bypass" of parental notification for an abortion of a 17-year-old girl, thus clarifying what it takes for a minor to have an abortion without the parents' knowledge.

-- From "Abortion opponents heartened by Pennsylvania high court ruling" by Bobby Kerlik, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 12/24/11

Abortion opponents are hoping a state Supreme Court decision clarifying how minors can get judicial approval for abortions will encourage county judges to scrutinize such requests.

The court ruled on Thursday that a 17-year-old's decision not to ask her mother's permission for an abortion was not a valid reason for Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Philip Ignelzi to deny her the procedure in March 2010.

Although the court ruled that Ignelzi improperly denied the girl's request, in part, because there was no parental notification, the justices said county judges' decisions should be given deference. Statistics on how often judges grant abortions are not available because the cases typically are sealed.

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From "Pa. court: Not telling parents isn't basis for judges to deny permission for girls' abortions" Mark Scolforo, Associated Press 12/22/11

The 1982 state law states that if a pregnant girl under 18 cannot get her parents' consent, or if she does not want to seek it, a judge can authorize an abortion after determining she is "mature and capable of giving informed consent."

[The pregnant minor] applied for the judicial bypass in March 2010, saying she was three months shy of turning 18, 10 weeks pregnant, and a high school senior with average grades who planned to go to college and hoped to become a lawyer.

She told the county judge she was concerned her mother would throw her out if she learned of the pregnancy, and that she had no relationship with her father.

The high court decision also ruled that appeals courts, when reviewing county court decisions on judicial bypass requests, should determine whether a judge abused his or her discretion.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Pennsylvania Court Rules on Rubber Stamp Teen Abortions" by Steven Ertelt, 12/26/11

Pro-life advocates have been concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court-mandated bypass provision has become a rubber stamp process by which courts allow virtually any teenager seeking to not inform their parents to get an abortion without them knowing — as opposed to the law’s intent, which is to allow that bypass only in cases when teenagers are genuinely concerned about physical abuse if their parents find out about the pregnancy.

Although the court ruled the judge did not properly deny the girl’s request for an abortion in the specific case, Randall Wenger, an attorney who represented pro-life groups Pennsylvania Family Institute and Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, told the Pittsburgh newspaper he thinks the ruling is still helpful.

This is the first-ever review of the pro-life law by the state’s highest court and it received legal support from pro-life groups and state legislators who support the law protecting a parent’s right to be involved in their child’s decision regarding abortion.

The Pennsylvania law and others like it have already been upheld at the U.S. Supreme Court and pro-life groups argue that a Pennsylvania trial court judge applied the correct legal standard and legitimately exercised his legal authority under the statute when he rejected a minor girl’s request for a secret abortion, stating that she needed consent from at least one of her parents.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.