Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Legislation to Improve Parental Consent Bypass Laws Passes Ohio House with Bipartisan Support


COLUMBUS—In an effort to protect the unborn and ensure the welfare of young mothers, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 63 by a vote of 64-33, marking a significant step toward refining Ohio’s laws that pertain to abortion.
House Bill 63, which was jointly sponsored by State Representatives Lynn Slaby (R-Akron) and Ron Young (R-Leroy Twp.), would revise the process of judicial bypass under Ohio’s Parental Consent for Abortion statute. 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 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,” said Slaby, a former judge. “This statistic shows that the bypass process may be flawed and ineffective. We need to take every precaution to safeguard the well-being of Ohio’s young mothers and make sure that they are of sound mind when they make the life-changing decision to have an abortion.”
House Bill 63 addresses these concerns by requiring 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.
“The bypass process exists for a reason, and it is important that juvenile judges follow the law for the good of the most vulnerable of our society,” said Young. “I am pleased that we are one step closer to rectifying this issue through the passage of House Bill 63.”
House Bill 63 will now move to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.