11th Circuit to hear challenge to Alabama’s parental consent bypass law, vacates previous ruling overturning the law

By Dave Andrusko

Alabama’s parental consent law, found unconstitutional in June of 2021 by a three judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, will get a second chance in court. Yesterday 10 of 11 judges agreed the circuit would hear the case en banc—with all judges voting—in a brief two-page notice.

“A majority of the judges in active service on this Court having voted in favor of granting rehearing en banc, it is ordered that this appeal will be reheard en banc… the panel’s opinion is vacated,” the panel wrote. 

According to reporter Kirk McDaniel of Courthouse News

Alabama’s Parental Consent act required a minor to receive written permission from one of her parents to receive an abortion. If consent is not given by the parents, they may alternatively receive a judicial order allowing the procedure, so long as she is “mature and well-informed enough to make the abortion decision on her own.”

The law was amended in 2014, changing the process by which a minor can attain a judicial order. “Reproductive Health Services, an abortion clinic located in Montgomery, filed the initial challenge in court against the amendments to the Parental Consent Act,” McDaniel wrote.

The three-judge panel consisting of U.S. Circuit Judges Charles Wilson, Adalberto Jordan, and Patrick Higginbotham wrote in a 60-page opinion that the amendments to “the Act [created] an undue burden under Whole Woman’s Health and Casey.” The appeal for a rehearing was filed by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.