Getting an abortion as a teen is already difficult, especially in Ohio, which is quickly becoming one of the most anti-choice states in the country. Now, thanks to the state legislature, minors will have their options on receiving judicial bypass limited even further due to a new bill allowing judges to decide if a teen was “coached” on how to answer questions, and forcing teens to only speak with judges in their district.
The bill requires a court to ask whether the minor understands the physical and emotional consequences of an abortion and whether the minor has been coached on how to answer the court’s questions when seeking a judicial bypass for parental approval.
The Ohio House already approved the bill but will have to agree with a new provision the Senate added before the bill is sent to Republican Gov. John Kasich’s desk for his signature.
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The Senate’s version of the bill requires a minor to get approval in the county she lives in or in a surrounding county. Republicans said the change will prevent minors from “shopping” for a friendly court.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio’s Executive Director Kellie Copeland condemned the new restrictions, calling them “politics at the expense of young women’s health and safety.”
“Most teens talk to their parents when facing an unintended pregnancy, which is ideal, but this bill fails to acknowledge that there are circumstances, such as a violent home, where telling her parents is not a safe option.”
H.B. 63 is a clear attempt to incrementally increase the onerous nature of the judicial bypass process, making it harder for young women to obtain a bypass from an already intimidating system. This legislation makes the judicial bypass process more prescriptive and formulaic, leaving far less latitude for the presiding judge to consider all the facts and circumstances, and expanding the role of the legislature to decide what constitutes ‘maturity’ to consent to abortion care.
The bill has passed the senate and is likely to pass the House soon after.