We recently posted about a disturbing case in Alabama involving as 12-year-old girl who needed to get an abortion after being raped by an adult family member. While the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals finally agreed she didn’t need parental consent normally required in that situation, there were government officials trying to make sure she couldn’t go through with the procedure. They were literally in court on behalf of the unborn child, urging the state to make the 12-year-old girl give birth.
District Attorney Win Johnson and the executive director of the COPE Pregnancy Center in Montgomery, Lorie Mullins, both said at a press conference earlier this month that the child should be forced to deliver her baby against her will. They also said the girl would be a “perpetrator” of violence by going through with the abortion, as if she were a murderer and not a victim of rape.
It was just vile stuff. It was also the natural consequence of a mindset that is “pro-life” without exception. Perhaps you can give some leeway to the DA who was just doing his job by defending a state law, but that doesn’t mean we can’t criticize the lawmakers who put their despicable ideology ahead of common sense and decency.
After all that, though, there’s finally a bit of a bright spot in the otherwise tragic story.
A federal judge has now struck down the Alabama law that required minors needing abortions from going through a trial.
As the law stood, underage girls could only have abortions with their parents’ consent. But if they couldn’t get it — or didn’t want to get it — they needed to get the state’s permission. Other states have what’s called a “judicial bypass” that allows a judge to make a decision that is “effective, confidential, and expeditious.”
In 2014, the Alabama legislature amended the bypass law to allow additional parties, including the district attorney, to participate in the bypass hearing, to call witnesses to testify regarding the minor, and/or to appeal a judicial bypass decision, which can delay a final decision to the point where an abortion is no longer an option.
In short, Alabama allowed other people to get involved, making an abortion much more difficult to obtain. In some cases, the state could even “subpoena the minor’s teacher, neighbor, relative or boyfriend to testify she’s too immature to choose an abortion.”
Now, those trials will be a thing of the past. If a girl can’t or won’t get her parents’ consent, a judge can simply take care of the matter on his or her own.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker sided with the American Civil Liberties Union on Friday, saying the law imposes undue burdens on girls, violating their rights to a confidential proceeding by allowing the district attorney, witnesses and others to get involved in opposing her decision.
Walker wrote she knew of no other state with such a law.
No child should have to beg anyone else for permission to end a pregnancy. That’s especially true for a rape victim.
Alabama’s law was cruel and unjust. And now it’s gone. Good riddance.
(Thanks to Melissa for the link)