The Ohio Senate today voted to pass House Bill 63, which revises the process of judicial bypass under Ohio’s Parental Consent for Abortion statute.

House Bill 63 will require a minor who is seeking judicial bypass to prove her case with “clear and convincing evidence.” Additionally, the legislation requires the court to inquire as to the minor’s understanding of the possible physical and emotional complications of the abortion procedure and, if faced with such complications, how she would address and treat the situation.

Finally, House Bill 63 requires the court to inquire as to whether and to what extent the minor has been coached or prepared on answering questions and what testimony to give at the bypass hearing.

“It’s important that judges are clearly convinced that the child understands the consequences of her actions, and that she is doing so without any outside faulty influence,” said Rep. Lynn Slaby (R-Copley), who jointly sponsored House Bill 63 with Rep. Ron Young (R-Painesville). “This is also important so that the Court of Appeals can properly review the actions of the trial court.”

According to federal court rulings, parental consent statutes permit a minor who is seeking an abortion the option to bypass the parental consent requirements, provided that she is able to convince a juvenile judge that she is mature enough to make an informed decision or that the abortion is in her best interest.

However, it has been reported that many judges rarely or never deny a bypass request, which raises the question as to whether the intent behind the process is blocked by a “rubber-stamp” approval procedure. A 2003 Akron Beacon Journal survey found a bypass approval rate of either 86 or 92 percent. This statistic shows that the bypass process may be flawed and ineffective.

“This legislation is sorely needed,” said Rep. Young. “The legislation sponsored by Rep. Slaby and me will address concerns that some courts are approaching this important bypass process with a “rubber-stamp” approval. A minor’s decision to terminate a pregnancy can have immeasurable consequences. It is critical that we do everything possible to allow for meaningful parental input, where appropriate.”

House Bill 63 passed from the Ohio House in March.


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