New Oklahoma Bill Could Do Away with Judicial Bypass for Teens


There are many reasons a teen may not want to inform her parents before getting an abortion. Some may fear physical or emotional abuse, others may not have relationships with their parents at all, and there are even cases, like the one we saw in Wisconsin, where the guardian was supportive but simply unable to physically accompany the girl to the procedure.

If a new Oklahoma bill is any indication, these teens may one day just be forced to give birth, plain and simple.

The Oklahoma legislature recently looked at two different bills to address what they believe is a concern of too many teens using the judicial bypass system in order to avoid notifying parents or guardians prior to terminating a pregnancy. One bill, HB 1361 will force teens access to a bypass only in the county in which she lives, regardless of whether that judge has a history of unfairly blocking bypass. The bill would also allow the judge to force her into a mental health evaluation and counseling before allowing her access, and makes “exploration of alternatives to abortion” one of the evaluation factors in deciding if she is mature enough to be considered emancipated.

Still, at least there is a potential bypass there, regardless of how much of a longshot it might be. HB 1588, on the other hand, eliminates the bypass option. “HB 1588, as introduced, creates the ‘Parental Notification for Abortion Act.’ The measure requires 48 hours to have passed after written notice of a pending abortion to a parent before an abortion is performed or induced upon an unemancipated minor. If a medical emergency abortion is performed, a notice must be sent to the parent within 24 hours after the procedure. Finally, a notice is not required if the parent has stated in a notarized writing that they have been informed, or if the pregnant female declares she is a victim of sexual or physical abuse by a parent.”

If she doesn’t want to or cannot tell her parent or guardian, she has no option. It’s give birth, or look for an unsafe, illegal abortion on her own.

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