Parental Consent Law Amendment
S.B. 135 - Sen. Dave Robertson
With virtually no debate or discussion, the Michigan Senate gave final approval
to Senate Bill 135 on March 29, 2012 by a vote of 28-10. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. No action was taken by the House on the bill, so the bill "died" at the close of the session. The bill would have to be reintroduced in the 2013-2014 session in order to receive any future consideration.
S.B. 135 was introduced on February 10, 2011 and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. On October 4, 2011, it was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with three votes in favor and one senator abstaining.
Michigan's 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. 135 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. 135 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.
For the history of Michigan’s law requiring parental consent for abortion, click here.