INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
An Indiana abortion bill meant to strengthen parental rights would require
notifying parents when a daughter under the age of 18 pursues legal action
to obtain an abortion without their consent.
Erin Houchin’s measure would counteract the judicial waiver option that
allows minors to petition the court to have the procedure without involving
parents or legal guardians. Instead, it would require that parents receive
legal notice their minor child is seeking the waiver and give them standing
to try to stop it in court.
The restrictive law
would be the first of its kind, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a
research organization that supports abortion rights. Of the 36 states that
require parental involvement and offer an alternative judicial bypass
procedure, none mandate notifying parents the minor is pursuing a bypass.
the step is necessary to ensure parents are involved in a potentially
life-changing decision for their child, citing “medical, emotional and
“It can be serious,
it can be lasting, particularly when the patient is immature,” said Sue
Swayze Liebel, spokeswoman for Indiana Right to Life. “Parents usually
possess the information that’s essential to a doctor’s exercise of their
best medical judgment.”
Opponents say it
would make it impossible for minors to obtain an abortion without involving
their parents - a move that the executive director of the ACLU of Indiana
suggested could be unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court
has agreed with parental involvement laws in the past only if they include a
confidential judicial bypass procedure, Jane Henegar said.
requires a minor’s parent or guardian “be involved and informed if she tries
to get a judicial bypass, in clear violation of that confidentiality
requirement,” Henegar said.
contend the timeline set out in statute would be difficult, if not
impossible, to uphold. Existing Indiana law requires juvenile courts to
issue a ruling within 48 hours, a restriction that under Houchin’s measure
would have to also include time to serve parents with papers and allow for
an evidentiary hearing.
physicians testifying in opposition to the measure asked lawmakers to
consider why a minor might need the route to abortion through the judicial
“I understand an
abortion is a sensitive issue - people have lots of deeply held feelings
about it - but it’s a reality and it’s a legal right,” said Jane Glynn, a
family law attorney who has represented minors seeking judicial waivers.
“Forcing girls into a no-win situation is not fair to these girls. It’s not
healthy for them.”
In addition to
giving parents notice of the judicial waiver process, the measure would
increase the standard of evidence judges must consider in waiver petitions
to “clear and convincing evidence” - which 16 other states have done so far
- and give parents a path to legal recourse against individuals who took
actions to aid their minor in obtaining the abortion.
It also requires
the parents or guardians providing consent for the minor’s abortion prove
they are who they claim with notarized, written consent, proof of
identification and documentation that establishes they are the “lawful”
parent or guardian.
After more than
three hours of testimony and discussion Wednesday, lawmakers on a Senate
panel approved the measure in a 6-4 vote, with one Republican joining the
Democrats in opposing the bill’s advance to the full Senate.
acknowledged lingering flaws in the bill and said they hope to amend it
further on the floor of the chamber during the bill’s second reading.
“This bill is not
finished and it isn’t even close, in my opinion,” said Republican Sen. Susan
Glick, in explaining her vote no. “The issue of personal service and notice
is a very difficult situation in this bill - and I don’t think we’re going
to resolve that in short order.”