Parental Consent Law Amendment
S.B. 254 - Sen. Dave Robertson
S.B. 254 was introduced on March 12, 2013, and
referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee took up the bill on June, 18, 2013. After only a brief amount of testimony, the committee reported the bill by a 3-1 vote. With the Legislature in recess for the summer, no action is expected on the bill until at least the fall.
parental consent law mandates that before an abortion can be performed on a
minor, one of her parents must consent in writing. The law also permits a minor
to seek a judicial bypass. In this process, the minor girl petitions the court
for a waiver of parental consent, arguing that she has sufficient maturity to
make the decision independent of her parents.
S.B. 254 closes a loophole in
the parental consent law, preventing the practice of "judge shopping" among
minors seeking a judicial bypass for abortion. Minor girls who have been denied
a judicial bypass at one court would not be permitted to seek a bypass at
another county court. If there is an unanticipated change in her family
situation or circumstances of her pregnancy, she would be permitted to request a
rehearing, in addition to her right to an expedited appeal. S.B. 254 also
creates guidelines for judges in making a determination regarding the maturity
of the girl seeking an abortion, and her best interests. These guidelines are
consistent with the line of questioning recommended by the Michigan Benchbook,
and include taking into consideration whether the minor girl’s parents have
neglected or abused her.
The testimony of Michigan judges and anecdotal
evidence reveal that minor girls seeking an abortion are engaging in "judge
shopping." Instead of following the expedited appeal process after a denial,
they bring a new petition in a neighboring county court without the knowledge of
the prior court. In many cases, these minor girls are being assisted by abortion
providers, who offer help in "navigating the judicial system," according to one
Michigan abortion facility’s website.
In addition, currently there are no statutory guidelines for judges when
making determinations about a minor’s maturity level and best interests.
In the 2003-2004 session, the House and Senate
passed a similar measure, but Governor Granholm vetoed the bill. In the
2007-2008 session, legislators introduced a revised bill that addressed the
false issues raised by Governor Granholm when she vetoed the prior bill. The
revised bill passed the Senate but died in the House. In the 2011-12 session, S.B. 135 was introduced and approved by the Senate, but was not taken up by the House.
For the history of Michigan’s law requiring
parental consent for abortion, click here.