ACLU challenges 2013 change strengthening Alabama’s parental involvement law

 

By Dave Andrusko

Alabama state Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia

Alabama state Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia

Representing an abortion clinic in Montgomery, Alabama, the ACLU filed a lawsuit last week challenging a 2013 law the intent of which was to end the practice of “rubberstamping” requests by minors for abortions without parental consent.

“The new law, sponsored by Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, would require minors to present evidence justifying the abortion and proving maturity,” reported Brian Lyman for the Montgomery Advertiser. “In addition, the court could appoint a guardian to defend the interests of the child and bring in a district attorney to cross-examine the young woman seeking an abortion.”

Representing Reproductive Health Services, Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, said in a statement, “This law aims to shame a young woman into not having an abortion,” adding, “Why should she be put on trial and treated like a criminal for a constitutionally protected procedure?”

Jones responded to Lyman that HB 494 was aimed to ensure that minors “fully understand the ramifications of their decision.”

In a statement, Jones said, “This act clarified previous law to provide judges and court officers with much-needed guidance on the procedures for these types of determinations, which are very important to the health and well-being of our minors, all while keeping proper safeguards in place to protect their privacy.”

Jones also explained the intent of the law—and the intent of the ACLU—in comments to the Daily Caller:

“Ultra-liberal groups like the ACLU have resorted to filing lawsuits to block legislation they don’t like because they no longer have allies in the Alabama legislature.”

“This law ensures that if a minor is seeking an abortion without parental consent, they fully understand the ramifications of their decision and prove that they are wholly aware of its impact – it’s that simple,” Jones added.

“This act clarified previous law to provide judges and court officers with much-needed guidance on the procedures for these types of determinations, which are very important to the health and well-being of our minors, all while keeping proper safeguards in place to protect their privacy,” he continued.

Mary Spaulding Balch, NRLC director of state legislation, reaffirmed the important of parental involvement. She told NRL News Today

“The judicial bypass procedure in parental involvement laws around the country is almost always a ‘rubber stamp,’ a routine authorization for a minor to have an abortion without so much as her parents’ knowledge about this major life decision. These minor amendments represent the acknowledgment of this shoddy practice and is a laudable attempt by the Alabama legislature to correct that situation. Young girls need someone looking out for their welfare and protection against making rash, ill-informed decisions which have life and death consequences.”

Interestingly enough, a spokeswoman for the ACLU’s Alabama chapter, said the Reproductive Health Services abortion clinic was not responding to a current issue with the statute.

“The lawsuit is not in response to a specific case but is an effort to set aside the law before it affects a minor seeking a judicial bypass,” Brooke Anderson wrote in an email.