Supreme Court of Texas releases amendments to court administrative rules to protect pregnant teens

SCOTX updates judicial bypass rules to include Pro-Life legislation passed in 2015 to protect minors seeking abortions without parental involvement

Austin, TX – December 31, 2015: On Tuesday the Supreme Court of Texas (SCOTX) released new rules for the judicial bypass process through which minors seeking abortions can circumvent parental involvement by obtaining a judge’s permission to undergo the elective abortion secretly.

During the 84th Session of the Texas Legislature in 2015, Texas Right to Life worked closely with Pro-Life legislators to craft legislation designed to protect pregnant teens seeking secret abortions, and their parents, from the predatory abortion industry.  House Bill 3994, by Representatives Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) and Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) and Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), closed major loopholes in the judicial bypass process, which left young girls vulnerable to being sent back into the arms of sexual abusers. 

When pregnant teens seek abortions, they are often paired with attorneys working pro bono for the abortion industry.  Until now, Texas law has enabled these attorneys to usher girls through the court process, cherry-picking judges who are known to be abortion supporters, and re-filing petitions until a favorable ruling was obtained from a judge.  Furthermore, until now petitions were automatically granted in the absence of an expeditious judicial ruling.

Texas Right to Life Legislative Director, John Seago, recalled the vigilance that was required to ensure strong standards were enacted for minors in Texas:  “Judicial Bypass Reform was one of Texas Right to Life's top legislative priorities, and due to Senator Charles Perry and Representatives Matt Krause and Matt Rinaldi, HB 3994 passed with significant reforms to the state's broken judicial bypass process.  We commend Chief Justice Nathan Hecht for protecting the legislative intent of the bill in his role as the liaison for court rules.  Pregnant teens will now be better protected due to Texas Right to Life’s legislative team, Pro-Life legislators who pushed for the strongest bill, and the new rules that closed the gaping loopholes in the bypass process.”  

The new rules also raise the standard of “clear and convincing” evidence required to support a request for judicial bypass.  SCOTX maintained a strong commitment to the confidentiality of the minor.  The Pro-Life law and the Supreme Court rules take effect on January 1, but the court administrative rules are open for public comment until April.  HB 3994 and the corresponding rules mark the strongest judicial bypass process, and other states will soon copy the Texas Right to Life model to protect pregnant teens.