Judicial Bypass: FAQ
Here you can find answers to general questions about judicial bypass
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No, you do not have to tell anyone you are having an abortion if you do not want to. It doesn’t matter whether they are your parent, your partner, someone you are dating, or anyone else.
Right now, there are thirty-six states in the U.S. with laws that require someone under age 18 (in some cases under 17, 16, or 15) to involve a parent or legal guardian in their decision to have an abortion. Involvement can mean telling your parent about the abortion, getting your parent’s permission to have an abortion, or both. These are known as parental involvement laws.
Not everyone can or wants to involve a parent in their abortion decision. If you cannot or do not want to involve your parent or guardian, or if they will not give you permission, you can go to court and ask a judge to allow you to get an abortion without having to involve your parent or guardian. This is called judicial bypass.
Abortion is a human right, and it remains a legal right in the majority of states in the United States. Even if you live in a state that has banned abortion, you still have legal rights. If you cannot or do not want to involve a parent in your abortion, another option is a judicial bypass. Judicial bypass is sometimes called judicial waiver and we use the term judicial bypass here.
A judicial bypass means asking a judge to give you permission to get an abortion without involving a parent or legal guardian. This usually involves going to a court to fill out forms before setting up a meeting to talk to the judge.
You do not have to pay any money to get a judicial bypass. An abortion fund in your state might be able to help with costs related to your abortion. The National Network of Abortion Funds lists a directory of abortion funds here.
If you need a judicial bypass, there might be a hearing in an office or a closed courtroom, depending on your state. A hearing is a meeting with a judge and a closed courtroom means that no one will be allowed in other than you, the judge, your attorney, and a court clerk.
Click here for information about judicial bypass specific to your state.
Hearings can differ by state. You can find information about your specific state here. In general, you will be asked questions so that a judge can determine if you are mature enough to make this decision without your parents, or if not involving your parents is in your best interests.
You might be asked your age, if you have had a job, if you have lived away from your parents, if you have traveled by yourself, if you have your own money and know what a budget is, and if you have made other big decisions in your life. You might also be asked what has happened since you found out you were pregnant, what you think will happen if you don’t have an abortion, and what you did to decide you wanted or needed an abortion. You might be asked why you want or need an abortion. You can find more information from Jane’s Due Process about what judges might ask you here.
In most states, your parent or guardian will not be told about the judicial bypass hearing. However, in some states, either the judge or the doctor has to notify your parent that you have a judicial bypass order or that you plan to have an abortion. This is not the case in most states with parental involvement laws. Click here to find out whether a doctor or judge must notify your parent or guardian in your state.
After a hearing, the judge decides whether they think you are mature and well-informed enough to make this decision on your own, or if it’s in your best interest not to involve your parent(s).
If the judge makes a decision and agrees that you can get an abortion without involving your parent or guardian, you will get a court order.
Having an order from the court means you can get an abortion in a clinic without involving your parent. If you have a lawyer, they can make sure the court order gets to your clinic before your appointment. If you do not have a lawyer, you will need to take the court order with you to the clinic to show that you can have an abortion without your parent or guardian being told.
No, if you are granted a judicial bypass that means you can get an abortion if you want or need to. It does not mean you are required to, and you can always change your mind. The court order just means you can make the decision without involving your parent(s).
You might be able to get help paying for your abortion through the clinic if you let them know you need it. Many clinics understand that someone who gets a judicial bypass might also need help paying for their abortion. Sometimes clinics work with funds to help people who get a judicial bypass pay for their abortion. The National Network of Abortion Funds lists funds around the country and national hotlines that help pay for abortion care. You can find that information here.
An abortion fund is an organization that raises money for and gives money to people seeking an abortion. Some funds only provide money toward the abortion procedure itself, and some funds provide what is called "practical support," which can include money toward hotels, transportation, or childcare for a person that is getting an abortion.
You can use any of these directories to find a real abortion clinic near you. Sometimes a Google search will show results for fake clinics called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) that do not provide abortion care. These directories list real clinics that provide abortion care and reproductive health care.
Planned Parenthood: Directory Here (make sure you select abortion in the services drop down menu)
National Abortion Federation: Directory Here
Abortion Care Network: Directory Here
I Need An Abortion: Directory Here
Best interests: This is one of the things a judge will consider as part of a judicial bypass hearing or application. If the judge thinks you are not mature or well-informed (see below) enough to make the decision to have an abortion for yourself, they may still decide that it is best for you not to have to involve an adult.
Mature and well informed: This is one of the things that a judge will consider as part of a judicial bypass hearing or application. The judge will ask you questions about yourself in order to decide whether they think you are mature and well-informed enough to make the decision to get an abortion without involving an adult.
Court Order: Official paper signed by the judge that you give to a clinic to show them you have a judicial bypass.
Emancipated minor: An emancipated minor went through a legal process and has a court order stating that they are freed from their parents and are legally an adult. In most states, if a legal minor is legally married then they are considered emancipated. Emancipated minors are not required to involve a parent in their abortion decision.
Guardian ad litem: In some cases, a judge may assign you a guardian ad litem (GAL). A GAL is not the same as a lawyer. A lawyer is someone who is supposed to help you get the result you want from the court. A guardian ad litem is different because they are assigned by the court to say what they think is the best result for you. This might be different from what you want. Depending on the state, you can ask the court to make your lawyer your GAL.
Hearing: A hearing is a meeting with a judge. This can happen in a courtroom or in the judges office. Depending on the state you are in, you might not actually need to meet with the judge in person.
Legal Guardian: A legal guardian has a court order stating that they have the legal authority and duty to care for a minor. This is different from a foster parent. Your legal guardian may not necessarily be an adult you live with or an adult that may be supporting you.
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