Texas House Passes HB 3994

May 18, 2015

By Rep. Stuart Spitzer

The Texas State Legislature worked late into the night on May 13th to approve a bill to strengthen “judicial bypass”. For a little background, in Texas, before a physician can perform an abortion on a minor girl (17 years or younger), he or she must obtain written and notarized consent of the minor’s parent or guardian.

The Supreme Court of the United States mandates any state that requires consent to have an alternate means for a minor to obtain an abortion. In Texas, this alternate route of consent is known as a “judicial bypass.” A judicial bypass is an order granted by a judge that allows the physician to perform an abortion on the minor without parental involvement.

The intent of this law was to provide minor girls with an opportunity to conceal an abortion from their parent(s) or guardian(s) when concealing the act was clearly in the minor’s best interest, as determined by the courts. However, over time the intent of judicial bypass has been eroded and stretched in order to grant judicial bypass in circumstances that were never intended. House Bill 3994 seeks to strengthen Texas’s judicial bypass law by making improvements necessary to protect the original intent of the landmark 1999 legislation.

Among other provisions, the bill extends the date and time by which a court is required to rule on an application and by which an appellate court is required to rule on an appeal of the original court’s ruling. Previously, the judge had 2 days before the court was deemed to have failed. Now the court has 5 days to deliberate before issuing a ruling. “As a surgeon, I understand the importance of informed consent before any surgical procedure. As a parent, I want to know about procedures performed on my child. If the government is going to step into this issue, we need to be sure that the courts have the time, information, and a very good reason,” said State Representative Stuart Spitzer MD.


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